The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure with the Centre's move to go ahead with the construction of the Central Vista project, questioning it for "moving forward aggressively" on the project even before a decision on petitions challenging it.
“The top court never thought the Centre will go ahead aggressively with construction due to pandemic. We though we are dealing with a prudent litigant and deference will be shown,” the court observed.
The SC clarified that the fact that there is no stay doesn't mean construction can go on. "You can lay the foundation stone, you can carry on paperwork but no construction or demolition, no cutting down any trees," the Supreme Court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
“I can assure the court that only foundation stone will be laid. No trees will be cut, or physical changed to the structure will be done. I can make that statement,” Mehta responded.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for a new Parliament building on December 10. The new building will have an area of 64,500 square metres and is being built at an estimated cost of Rs 971 crore.
The new building will be earthquake resistant and 2,000 people will be directly involved in the construction of the new building and 9,000 indirectly. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said as many as 1,224 MPs can sit together in the building, while a new office complex for all MPs of both the houses would be built at the site of the existing Shram Shakti Bhawan.
The existing Parliament building will be conserved as it is an archaeological asset of the country, Birla said. He said the invitation will be extended to all political parties. While some would attend physically and others would attend virtually, Birla said, while adding that the ceremony would follow Covid-related guidelines.
The new building will also have a grand Constitution Hall to showcase India's democratic heritage, a lounge for members of Parliament, a library, multiple committee rooms, dining areas and ample parking space. In the new building, the Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 888 members, while Rajya Sabha will have 384 seats for the upper house members.
This has been done keeping in mind the future increase in the number of members for the two houses. At present, Lok Sabha has a sanctioned strength of 543 members and Rajya Sabha of 245.
In September this year, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new parliament building at a cost of Rs 861.90 crore. The new building will be constructed close to the existing one under the Central Vista redevelopment project. The existing Parliament House building will be suitably retro-fitted to provide more functional spaces for parliamentary events, to ensure its usage along with the new building.
The existing building is a massive circular edifice of 560 feet in diameter. The Parliament House Estate is enclosed by an ornamental red sandstone wall or iron grills with iron gates that can be closed when occasions demand. The building has 12 gates.