Design of New Parliament to take a few more weeks amid lockdown

The design for the new Parliament building that the Centre is hoping to complete by August 2022 could be delayed by a few weeks as the country remains in lock-down, according to sources.

The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry’s construction agency, the Central Public Works Department, was expecting to prepare the detailed project report for the building in March and present the same to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Vice-President soon after, according to CPWD officials. The tender inviting bids for the construction of the building would have been issued shortly after, in keeping with the May deadline set by the Ministry earlier, officials said.

The timeline could be pushed back due to the lockdown. Bimal Patel, director of the Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management, which was selected by the CPWD in October 2019 as its consultant for the project, told The Hindu that though the pandemic was ‘disruptive’, he hoped it would not change the final deadline of the project.

“The COVID–19 pandemic is a time of much distress in the world. Yes, it is disruptive but MoHUA, CPWD, HCP DPM and all the on-board consultants are continuing to work in this period of lock-down.Many calls and video conferencing are ensuring that we continue to work at our best possible pace in these tumultuous times. We hope to not let this disruption effect the final deadlines of the project,” he said.

The draft masterplan drawn up by the HCP envisages a triangular-shaped building opposite the existing circular Parliament House. However, the design process would “continue in the coming few weeks”, Mr. Patel said, adding that concerns raised by MPs at a recent meeting would be addressed.

“Design as a process requires regular feedback from the end-users, in this case the Members of Parliament, the Vice-President and the Speaker. After presenting the design to this gathering, which was a ‘work in progress’, a few concerns were raised and now the design is evolving with the intention to accommodate them,” he said.

The MPs raised concern about the fact that the new building would not have a separate Central Hall.

“The Central Hall serves as an important lounge and meeting space for all MPs when the joint session is not in progress. They want to see how the activities in this space are going to continue in the new facility. In the proposal, a lounge in the periphery of the courtyard is being developed to address these concerns,” he said.

Another concern of the MPs was the design itself.

“The present Parliament building, despite its discomforts, is cherished by all its users. The MPs have an emotional connect with this “temple of democracy”, which resonated with all the citizens. The design of the new proposed facility is being developed so that its interiors and aesthetics are evocative of the present facility,” he added.

Announced in October 2019, the government’s redevelopment plan includes revamping the 3-km-long Central Vista, constructing a new Parliament building and demolishing post-Indepedence era government offices to make way for a common Central Secretariat by 2024. For the new Parliament building, the government had on March 20 approved the change of land-use from recreational to “Parliament House” for the 9.5-acre plot.

(Source:The Hindu, Reproduced here for wide circulation within architecture fraternity only)

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