Its not a question of “why” but “why now?”
That’s what the burning question is – why to spend so much now and build a new Parliament building in the midst of a pandemic when people are dying of hunger and illness? No one, not even the Opposition has questioned the need for a new Parliamentary building but many are asking “why now?”
But if you really look at it logically, it makes more sense to go ahead right now with this huge Rs.20,000 crore Central Vista Project which aims to refurbish and build the old and crumbling Govt buildings on the 13.4 kms stretch of Rajpath. Of this, around Rs.1000 crore is the Budget for the new Parliamentary building which will house the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Now is the best time as it will generate the much needed employment and building anything right now, in the midst of the pandemic will put money in the hands of the people. Its an infra push and it need not always be about building roads and bridges alone. These buildings, crumbling and having no capacity to accommodate the rising needs of the population needs to be refurbished.
In fact this idea was not mooted by Modi at all. First it was Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar and then Sumitra Mahajan who had voiced the need to rethink about the existing Parliamentary house as it now requires crores of rupees for maintenance thus making more economic sense to build a new one.
Agreed it’s a heritage building, houses the history of our country as it was constructed in 1920 and commissioned in 1927. The needs and the population of the country have undergone a sea change; so how can the same building suffice? Many of us in India have lived through houses and apartments built before independence and know the challenges; living in a heritage house has brag value but those who live there actually pay a much higher price with leaky roofs, monsoon issues, creaking stairs, crumbling edifices, leaky plumbing, fire hazards and much more.
The Parliamentary House is a building which is not on show, it is a ‘live’ building, very much in use. Thus the challenges are immense. So now or later, this had to be done and its perfectly a good idea to begin work now.
2026 is the year when the Govt at the Center will witness a huge change – the 50-years freeze on number of Lok Sabha constituencies will go and there is speculation that the size of the Lok Sabha will be increased to more than 800, from the current strength of 543. That automatically means that we need to create that capacity now.