Right move to preserve Parliament’s heritage
By The New Indian Express
11th August 2012 12:35 AM
Even before the much-hyped plan to construct a new Parliament building could be firmed up, the Heritage Committee of Parliament on Thursday decided to give it a quiet burial. Instead of shifting operations to another site, the committee has instructed the central public works department to engage consultants to prepare a master plan that would ensure that the ‘core activities’ of Parliament are carried out in the 85-year-old building, constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker to house India’s federal legislature. The decision is significant as it came in the first meeting of the committee after the talk began of a possible new parliament house complex.
Suggestions for a new building began doing the rounds after a safety audit of the Parliament House following a recent fire in the state government headquarters in Mumbai found many shortcomings in the building for which a no-objection certification had not been issued for 60 years. Some experts also doubted its capacity to withstand a major earthquake. Lok Sabha secretary general T K Vishwanathan also told the media that with the number of MPs expected to go up after 2025, the current premises would be inadequate. Acting with sagacity, the committee rightly decided that these problems could be addressed by strengthening and decongesting the existing complex and Parliament must continue to function in the building.
Additions, alterations, modifications, and periodic repairs are natural in any old structure. The Capitol and White House buildings in the United States are almost 200 years old but have got by very well with timely maintenance and repairs. Advances in engineering and technology could be effectively used for the preservation, protection and conservation of Parliament House. Considering its height and circular design, the effect of an earthquake in the vicinity of Delhi or a large magnitude earthquake in Northwest Himalayan region would be nil or minimum. The earthquake bogey cannot be raised to justify any plans to build a new house for Parliament and the committee has done well to reject the proposal.
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