Construction of New Parliament building unlikely to start this year: Officials

The construction of the new Parliament building proposed to come up on plot number 118 of the Parliament House Estate may not begin this year, officials familiar with the development said.

Tata Projects Limited emerged as the lower bidder for the tender to construct the new Parliament complex by quoting a bid of ₹861.90 crore when the financial bids for the project opened on September 16 and it was awarded the contract to construct the building on September 29. Officials involved in overseeing the project say the construction may begin by early next year around January or February after the winter session of Parliament .

The winter session of Parliament is usually held around mid-November to mid- December.

“Construction work is yet to begin. Tata Projects has just been awarded the contract and the work for civil construction will take time. It will take at least two months for them to mobilise labour and begin construction work on the site. As per the order, at least 60 days are provided for mobilising. We will work on shifting the reception area of the Parliament building to clear space and some small structures and offices will also have to be shifted,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

Tata Projects did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.

The deadline for completing the new Parliament complex is 2022. According to Central Public Works Department’s (CPWD) order, the construction is required to be completed strictly within the prescribed time limit of 21 months with the “highest standards of quality and workmanship”.

CPWD has specified that 50% of the workers will need to be skilled in stone masonry, carving, and fresco, and adequate health and safety measures will need to be taken in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

CPWD, which is the project implementation arm of the ministry of housing and urban affairs, specified that the existing Parliament building shall continue to function during the entire period of execution of this project.

The contractor may have to execute the work in three shifts with a large number of workers, supervisors and professional engineers, the bid document had said. “In view of high degree of security concerns at site and the work itself, stringent access control measures shall be exercised for entry and exit of manpower, material and construction equipment,” it stated.

The new Parliament building with a built-up area of approximately 60,000 metre square, is set to come up on plot number 118 of the Parliament House Estate, which currently houses a reception, boundary walls and other temporary structures. The design for the ground plus two-storey triangular-shaped building is also in its final stages.

India’s national emblem is likely to sit atop the new Parliament building, according to the latest design iteration prepared for the tendering process, replacing a spire that was meant to come up in an earlier version, HT reported on September 16.

The central foyer will have a Constitution Hall that will display an original copy of the Constitution for public viewing. A library will also come up near the central foyer.

The triangular complex is designed to include 120 offices with six separate entrances for members of the public, MPs and VIPs, including the Speaker and the vice president. The new Parliament will house larger chambers for the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha; the latter has been designed to accommodate 1,350 MPs in case of joint sessions. The public gallery will seat more than 336 persons.

The Centre will also begin work on construction of a common secretariat proposed under the Central Vista redevelopment plan by next year, officials said. A plot of 15 acres has been identified by the Centre to relocate IGNCA near Jamnagar House work on which will begin soon.

Experts also cautioned against construction as the air quality deteriorates in the region. “The environment clearance for the Parliament was not based on a detailed environment impact assessment… More than any other project, the construction of Parliament should have taken into account air quality concerns before initiating construction activity. Both the project proponents and government are aware of air quality concerns in the country, and in this particular case, Delhi-NCR. Yet they have risked initiating construction only based on a pre-determined timeline that is economically fragile, environmentally unsound and socially unjust,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher, Centre for Policy Research.

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