Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the new parliament building which is expected to be completed by 2022. The building will be constructed by Tata Projects Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 971cr.
Nearly 200 dignitaries, including Union ministers, ministers of state, MPs, foreign envoys and religious leaders attended the event that was webcast live. Tata Trusts’ chairman Ratan Tata was also present.
In an address after the event, Modi said: “I can never forget the moment in my life when I had the opportunity to come to Parliament House for the first time in 2014 as an MP. Then before stepping into this temple of democracy, I had bowed my head and saluted this temple of democracy.”
He added: “This is a day of pride for over 130 crore Indians when we are witnessing this historic moment. The new Parliament building is an example of the co-existence of the new and the old. This is an effort to make changes within oneself in accordance with the time and needs.”
Notably, the opposition had questioned the “bhoomi pujan” of new parliament building as per Hindu rituals after which lok sabha secretariat announced the ceremony will be attended by leaders of all religions.
Congress leader PL Punia had also stated that the foundation stone of the building should be laid by the President of India, not the Prime Minister.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asserted the new building will be a “temple of Aatmanirbhar Bharat” that will reflect the diversity of the nation.
The building will be a part of the Narendra Modi government’s plan to redevelop the Central Vista in New Delhi.
The triangular complex with a built up area of approximately 60,000sqm will have spacious seating arrangements for around 1,400 MPs. The national emblem is likely to sit atop the building that will have sculptures of parliamentarians and images representing India’s diversity.
The current building was built during British era and has started showing signs of distress and overuse. It will be conserved as an archaeological asset of the country.
When the announcement regarding the new parliament was made in March, many had called the development ill-timed and gross misuse of the country’s resources amid the tough times of lockdowns and rising unemployment.
Earlier on December 7, expressing displeasure over the way the Centre is “aggressively” going ahead with the construction work of the Central Vista, the Supreme Court allowed the foundation stone laying ceremony but directed no construction should take place on the Central Vista project.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam had even urged Prime Minister Modi to suspend the overall Central Vista project and divert the fund to “more important and pressing issues that the country faces”.
In a letter addressed to Modi, Binoy said carrying out such a project at a time the country faces “unprecedented challenges” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, a “crippling recession” and unemployment shows the “apathy and indifference” of the government towards its people.
However, as India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, the new parliament building is likely to serve as a project for national integration, instilling a sense of national pride among the citizens. It will be showcased as an institution created by 130cr citizens, cementing India’s place as one of the biggest and renowned democracies in the world.