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Work will soon start for a new Parliament Building, and a promise is that it could be completed and inaugurated in less than two year’s time. The new building is designed as part of the wider Central Vista project, a brainchild of the Modi government, and this in totality could take shape over a period of a few more years.
The need for a new parliament house is unquestioned. The present one is nearly a century old. It has eroded its strength, and it lacks sufficient space to accommodate the MPs of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha even as creation of more constituencies is being contemplated. Constituency reorganization work is currently under way to balance the seat strength with the population growth.
A few aspects however make the present plan of a new parliament building and the Central Vista Project untenable. One is the question of shrinking finances and whether it is appropriate to carry forward this projects at a time when the nation is facing a serious economic crisis due to the pandemic. The other is about the plan and whether there is any guarantee that the new edifice will be an improvement on the present one which is iconic, a gigantic structure that stands out for its grandeur and elegance.
Another fear is also whether the invocation of the ‘Bharat’ spirit so special to the saffron band and its ideological grandmaster, the RSS, would mess up with the project. The world has changed a lot from the ancient Bharat days. Any new endeavour should reflect these changes, rather than the nation hanging on to all its old moorings by way of nostalgia. As far as government spending is concerned this recession is the right time for spending more government money to rev up the markets and increase liquidity. So, the pumping of nearly Rs 900 crore for the Parliament Building works should not be scoffed at.
How the new edifice will look is being debated. The new building too should be iconic since it represents the image of the world’s largest democracy. A split look, as the images showed, might be a dampener at first sight. Faith is put on the Tata Group that has won the bidding for construction by edging out the L&T. Both have high reputations.
The Tatas can be depended upon to do an impressive job and, unlike many others to also do justice to the funds that the government would put at their disposal. There are environmental concerns about the Central Vista project. It is important that this project does not add to the congestion in the capital as also the loss of tree cover.