Is time up for the Parliament?

Edward Lutyens, the British architect and planner who planned New Delhi, could well be turning in his grave as plans get afoot to replace the 85-year-old heritage Parliament building with a 'brand new structure'. Using the pretext of fire in the Mantralaya building in Mumbai some days back, a report has been prepared by the Lok Sabha Secretariat expressing apprehensions about the stability of the magnificent structure. A high-powered committee is sought to be set up to suggest an alternative complex to house the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

The issue of the site, the size and the structure of the alternative complex, according to an agency report, will be decided by the committee which will soon be set up by the speaker Meira Kumar, the Lok Sabha secretary general T K Viswanathan said. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has also approached Building Research Institute in Roorkie to undertake a study of the structure, which, the Lok Sabha Secretariat apprehends, may not be able to withstand a major earthquake.

Viswanathan said that the committee is being set up in view of the fact that the present structure, which is 85 years old, could not cope with a growing number of visitors and not able to service so many people. The Parliament House is one of the most heavily fortified buildings in the country, with the presence of a large number of security personnel.

Besides, in the next 50 years, the strength of both the houses is also expected to increase with moves for greater representation to women and other weaker sections. Quoting the speaker, Viswanathan said that the magnificent building was 'weeping' as it had to bear the load of a large number of visitors and new additions, including air conditioning of both the houses and heavy cabling which was not originally planned.

The Parliament House is a Grade I heritage structure, designed by Lutyens and Herbert Baker. It has to be conserved in accordance with certain guidelines and its specifications cannot be altered.
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