‘Who said we are going to destroy Parliament?’ asks Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

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Urban Affairs Minister says all options are open for redevelopment plan

A new office building for staff and all MPs linked to Parliament via an underground pathway or a new structure on top of the existing building are among the options the Centre is open to as it works on its redevelopment plan for the Central Vista, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday.

After the government’s ambitious plan of redeveloping Parliament, the 3-km Central Vista that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan till India Gate and development of a common Central Secretariat was announced last week, some architects raised concerns about the project. The Central Public Works Department had floated a request for proposal on September 2 asking architecture firms to come up with designs for the redevelopment.

Referring to the criticism, Mr. Puri said, while speaking at a seminar on trends in architecture organised by the CPWD here, that he “did not want to engage” with it. “Who said we are going to destroy Parliament? All we have done so far is to invite ideas. If merely by inviting ideas, a building falls, then I believe it’s not an idea, it’s something else,” he said.

Govt. to take call soon

Later, speaking to reporters, he said more space could be added “in the chamber” to make way for expansion of Parliament after future delimitation.

The offices of staff and Ministers in Parliament currently could be shifted to a new building in the complex connected through an underground path, he said.

In his speech earlier, Mr. Puri had said the option of making a “dhaancha” or structure on top was also on the table. The new building would also hold offices for all MPs, which are not available to them now.

He said a “political call” would be taken after the CPWD assesses the bids, the last day for which is September 30.

Speaking about the history of the CPWD, which was established 165 years ago by the British, Mr. Puri said: “CPWD was born in the 1850s, in Lord Dalhousie’s period. The buildings constructed in that period reflected the colonial ethos that the country was subjected to.”

He added that the redevelopment of the Central Vista was only one part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream.

“He has a vision for India,” he said.

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