Days after PM Modi performed the Shilanyas for new parliament building, BJP MP and legal activist Subramanian Swamy has taken to Twitter to cast aspersions on Tata Projects Limited being awarded the contract to build the new Parliament complex under the Central Vista redevelopment plan.
“Does anyone know how Tatas were selected for building the new Parliament complex? Was it by bids or like in 2G Spectrum scandal on first come first served basis?”, Tweeted Subramanian Swamy, wondering whether the Tata Projects limited won the contract through a fair bid or the contract was a scam, perhaps like the 2G spectrum scam under the UPA coalition government.
However, Swamy’s insinuations seem misplaced.
Why aspersions made by Dr Subramanian Swamy are wrong
Tata Projects Ltd was amongst the 7 companies which had placed pre-qualification technical bids for the construction of the new building in the month of July. A senior official aware of the development had then confirmed that seven firms had submitted their bids, which were to be considered. “It will take two to three weeks to shortlist the bidder based on their technical qualifications,” the official had added while speaking to Hindustan Times.
Mumbai-based construction and civil engineering company ITD Cementation India Limited, Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Private Limited, Larsen & Toubro Limited, NCC Limited (headquartered in Hyderabad), PSP Projects Ltd based in Ahmedabad, Tata Projects Ltd and Uttar Pradesh state government undertaking UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited had filed their bids online seeking to construct the new Parliament complex, adjacent to the existing Parliament building, with a built-up area of approximately 60,000 square meters.
On August 12, three construction companies have qualified for submission of financial bid. These companies were L&T Ltd, Tata Project Ltd and Shapoorji Pallonji and Co Pvt Ltd.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) then opened the financial bids for the new Parliament building construction on September 16, 2020. The government civic body had estimated a cost of Rs 940 crore for the project. Tata Projects had submitted the lowest bid of Rs 861.90 crore. Larsen and Toubro’s bid was at Rs 865 crore. Since Tata Projects Ltd’s bid was the lowest, it won the construct to build the new Parliament building.
The New Parliament Building
The new building will come up at plot number 118 of the Parliament House Estate, according to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which said the existing building will continue to function during this period. It will comprise of halls with larger seating capacity for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and offices for members of Parliament as well as a courtyard, dining facilities, and a lounge for the politicians.
The contract for the new Parliament building was to be awarded in March but was delayed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The construction of this new complex is a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project.
Modi Govt’s Central Vista redevelopment project
The Central Vista project involves the redevelopment of the area known as Central Vista Avenue, the area between the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the India Gate, where all the important buildings related to the union government are located. This project has two main parts, a new parliament building, and a new secretariat complex to bring all the central govt ministries in one place. A third part involves the development of the Rajghat and the area around it, which is available for the general public, including the development of public amenities. This project will involve demolition of some non-heritage buildings in the area, and construction of new buildings in place of them.
Like most of the initiatives taken by the Central government, the proposal to construct the new parliament building has also irked the ‘secular’ forces in the country. While the Congress went ahead to boycott the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new Parliament building on December 10, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had expressed displeasure on the Bhumi Pujan saying that the Prime Minister of a country should lay the foundation stone and not perform Bhumi Pujan, in a ‘secular’ multi-faith democracy.
Actor Kamal Haasan on Sunday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should spell out the rationale behind constructing a new Parliament building.
While the so-called liberals continue to cry foul, there are several reasons which completely justify India’s need for a new parliament building and a central secretariat complex. The old building is not only posing safety issues, it is inadequate to serve the need of a tech-savvy, rapidly developing democracy. Many parts of the building are crumbling and the earthquake vulnerability of the area in Delhi makes a new, better-designed structure the need of the hour.