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Not even a nail should be hammered in without permission
This is probably the first time that a serious effort is being made to preserve Parliament House for future generations. What made you take up such an ambitious project?
For me, Parliament House is a heritage building. It needs to be treasured and cherished. The architecture is unique because of its circular shape and its many grand columns with courtyards in the centre. And there is the extra dimension of the building being not only the seat but the symbol of our democracy. Our democracy is admired all over the world. People are in awe of it. I want them to be awed by our Parliament building as well. The stature of Parliament House in the eyes of people should be commensurate with the stature our democracy enjoys.
How do you propose to go about it?
We have formed a joint parliamentary committee with leaders from various political parties. There was a very positive reaction from all of them when I said that we should treat the Parliament with kid gloves. Even to hammer in a nail, we should have to take permission.
Under this parliamentary committee is a technical committee that consists of architects and engineers of the CPWD, representatives of INTACH, interior decorators and historians. Their role is to give expert advice. All decisions will be taken with the approval of the parliamentary committee.
What is the time frame for the project? And the cost?
The term of the committees is co-terminus with the life of the present Lok Sabha. This (conservation) is an ongoing process, but I hope to do as much as possible before I leave. It's difficult to estimate the cost. We are still assessing what needs to be done. We are searching for old pictures and sketches of the interiors of Parliament House and its rooms. I would like the look to be replicated, even the furniture.
What are your focus areas?
It is a very big task. The building is beautifully made, but it was meant for a certain number of people. The number of users has increased. There are a lot of temporary structures and partitions to accommodate everyone. The staircases are blocked by furniture. It is aesthetically not appealing. Also, to accommodate modern technologies there are cables everywhere: for airconditioning, for more lighting, for computers, for telephones. This tends to weaken the building and make it look ugly. Parliament House was built in 1928. It has aged over the years and will have to be made safe. I want to introduce solar energy in the building. There are so many things. The question is, how do we balance our requirements? This will have to be examined by the experts. We will have to plan what to do and do it step by step.
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