Col Alok Mathur, SM ( Veteran)
A shining Black Range Rover cavalcade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the premises of Parliament House at 0715 hours on 28 May 2023; the prime minister walked about 500 yards and paid floral tributes to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. After taking blessings of the Father of the Nation, he proceeded to the nearby Ceremonial Pandal (tent) where a traditional Havan was conducted by saints with chanting of Vedic Mantras for about 20 minutes. Modi worshipped the Fire God with offerings of pure ghee and dry fruits. This initiated the process of the inauguration of the new Parliament building constructed as part of the Grand Vista project.
After getting the blessings of the Gods and Gurus , the prime minister entered the central lounge where a gold plated, silver based ‘Sengol ‘, a symbol of power of the Chola and Mauryan Emperors, was kept on an silk covered elevated platform. The Lok Sabha Chamber has been blessed with installation of this Chola Dynasty Sengol, a sceptre gifted by Lord Earl Mountbatten to the first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru on the occasion of Independence on 15 August 1947 that had earlier been kept in Anand Bhavan in Priagraj .
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered Sashtang Pranam (laid on ground face down hand stretched joined palms) to the Sengol and then after due rituals escorted the sceptre to its designated platform near the chair of the Speaker of the house. He was accompanied by the head priests of the Adheenaams (Non Brahmins Shavitie Mutts of Tamil Nadu). He gracefully asked for blessings of 20 Adheenam Mutta priests.
Installation of the Sengol
Subsequently, he walked down to the Sarva Dharma prayer arena, where all members of the cabinet and Speakers of both houses were seated. The prayers started with Vedic hymns, sermons from the Bible by a Priest, Ayats of Holy Kuran by a Maulvi, Jew prayers, Buddhists and Jain Monks blessings and culminated with melodious Gurbani Path. . It was a wonderful display of the secular character of India.
The next function of the inauguration ceremony’ was held at the main hall at 1200 hours. Initially two documentaries were shown to showcase the heritage of India followed by launching of Rs 75/- coin and postage stamp to commemorate Amrit Kaal.
A congratulatory message from President Droupadi Murmu was readout by Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker Harivansh. She said that the inauguration of the new building was a matter of great joy and immense pride for the people of India and an important milestone in India’s democratic journey and will take the rich traditions to new heights.
Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar conveyed that apart from reflecting India’s ability to fuse its tradition and culture into modern technology for growth, the new parliament building was also a symbol of resolve to liberate ourselves from the colonial mindset and it was eminently befitting that PM had inaugurated the new abode of Democracy.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that there was long pending demand by members of the ruling and opposition parties for a new complex. He expressed gratitude for respecting the sentiments and fulfilling the dream of the members by construction of new complex in record time.
Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha also thanked PM for providing state-of-the- art technology to the new parliament complex which would improve the work efficiency of the house.
PM Narender Modi addressed the fully packed Joint house with foreign dignitaries in attendance with total confidence and pride. “Some moments become immortal in the Journey of every nation, some dates become indelible signatures on the forehead of time… This great day 28 May 2023 is one such auspicious occasion,’ he said. “In this Amrit Mahoatav, the people of India have gifted a new building to their democracy. We have completed this impressive edifice in record time of 30 months and in defiance of the Pandemic. The new complex is entirely designed and made in India based on traditional culture and Vastu. This complex is a marvel of Engineering and Technology and co-existence of old and new,” he added. He recalled that India was one of the most prosperous nations of the world but regressed under foreign rule and it was time for that old glory to be re-established. The new India is turning once again to the glorious golden era leaving behind the colonial nightmare.
Although the ceremony was organised against the backdrop of protests by opposition parties led by Congress , no one really cared and the whole nation celebrated. He concluded with a sermon from Vedas which meant’ Keep moving and if you stop, Your destiny is also Blocked’.
The grand programme was beamed live on National and International TV Channels with unprecedented viewership. The building will be an inspiration for all of us who are involved in the building of a new India. He said that New Parliament is the new Temple of the largest and vibrant democracy of the Globe.
The grand Hexagonal shape structure of the new Parliament House spanning 64,500 square meters is part of the Grand Vista project encompassing a number of buildings to house of all ministries, PM Office , Vice President office within walking distance of each other.
The main contractor is Tata Projects Ltd. Bimal Patel of HCP Design Planning and Management Firm is the chief architect.
A committee had been set up in 2012 by then speaker Meira Kumar to suggest an alternative to the 93 years British origin old parliament building as it had developed cracks and leakages and had limited space. Then, the project was shelved as the cost amounted to almost 1500 crores. The present government again reviewed the project and launched the Grand Vista project in 2019. Bhumi Poojan was conducted on 2 October 2019 and foundation stone was laid on 10 December 2020.With interfaith prayers by religious teachers.
There were a number of writs against the project which were overruled by the Supreme Court and the construction started in January 2021. As per the chief architect, the new building has life of 150 years and is especially designed to be earthquake proof , fire proof, blast proof.
It incorporates the design of the old Surya Temple of Vidisha, which was destroyed by the Mughuls. The current cost of the project is about 970 crores, much lower than earlier cost projected in 2012. The Lok Sabha Hall has the theme of the national bird, Peacock, and has a capacity to accommodate 888 members against 550 in the old parliament. The Rajya Sabha Hall has a lotus roof top with a capacity of 384 seats against 250 in the old Parliament building.
The new edifice does not have a central hall, but for joint sessions the Lok Sabha Chamber can be extended to accommodate 1272 members. It has four floors with offices for Ministers, standing parliament committees, food court, medical inspection room, viewers gallery, press block, office complex, central control room for continuous surveillance and library. The central constitution hall has a theme of Banyan tree; it is here that the original and digital copy of the Constitution has been placed. The building has been designed to transfer sunlight during the day inside both chambers, thus saving cost of electricity.
The complex has three main entrance gates namely Gyan Dwar, Shakti Dwar and Karma Dwar. Three secondary gates Ashwa, Gaja and Garuda are for Vice President , Speakers and PM. Three more secondary gates Makar, Hansa and Shardul are for members and visitors.
The building has been constructed in less than three years by the sweat and hard work of 60,000 workers and Engineers, an engineering feat in itself. They were suitably honoured by PM with shawls and salvers on 28 May 2023.