What Makes Our Parliament An Iconic Building?
A new Parliament Complex along the Rajpath is on the cards. In this regard, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's proposal that India would need more space to extend its Parliament to save the current building from “distress” is likely to get an approval from the Central government. The 88-year-old building was designed keeping in a mind a limited number, and this number has been growing sharply in the recent past.
As the Centre gears up to create more space for our parliamentarians, we look at the old structure and the list things you need to know about this iconic building:
- Designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the building was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 83 lakh. The construction that started in 1921 took six years to complete. The then governor-general Lord Irwin (Edward Frederick Lindley Wood) inaugurated the opening ceremony.
- The building that covers six acres of area is a massive circular edifice, measuring over 170 mt in diameter and over 536 mt in circumference, has 12 gates. The architectural design of the building is a perfect mix of ancient Indian tradition and modern amenities. While there are six elevators operating in the complex, a large part of the building is air-conditioned.
- The building hosts the Parliament House, the Reception Office Building, the Library Building, the Parliament House Annexe along with huge lawns and artificial ponds.
- As security is of key concern, the structure is enclosed by an ornamental red sandstone wall and iron gates. The roads which cut across the Parliament Building are not allowed to be used for public use.
- The building was declared a Grade-I heritage property in 2009. And, two parliamentary panels — the Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) and the Standing Technical Committee (STC) — were set up to help maintain the heritage character of the building. While the former was headed by the Lok Sabha Speaker, the latter is headed by Lok Sabha secretary-general. In one of the ways to maintain the original character of the building, the JPC suggested decongesting the complex.
- India's first Lok Sabha Speaker G V Mavalnakar set up a panel in 1951 to draw a detailed plan on adorning the ground floor of the complex with 125 panels and 46 motifs at an estimated cost of Rs 3 lakh. However, under a revised plan, it was decided to place 59 panels. At present, the corridor is adorned with 58 panels by renowned artists from across the country depicting the mystic, mythological, cultural and political history of India.
- There are as many as 30 statues and busts in the Parliament House Precincts. These include the sculptures of Chandragupta Maurya, Motilal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, among others. The Central Hall has 23 portraits.
- Inscriptions from Upanishadas, Mahabharata, Manu Smriti, etc, are indicative of the spirit with which Parliamentarian should conduct their business. These serve as the guiding principles for deliberations. A dome over the passage to the Central Hall also has an Arabic inscription which means "God will not change the condition of the people unless they bring about a change themselves".
- While the library has a stack area for housing three million volumes, other facilities in the complex include a research and reference division, a computer centre, a media centre, a press briefing room, a Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, an audio-visual library, a Parliamentary Museum and Archives, an auditorium with a capacity of 1,067 persons, committee and conference rooms, a banquet hall and a parking facility for 212 cars.