New Delhi - The idea of shifting parliament to a new building has not found favour with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who feels that the heritage building should retain its present status though all "encroachments" should be removed.
"It (the building) should be retained for the purpose of Parliament House. Clear it of all encroachments," Bansal told reporters here Friday.
Giving his personal views, Bansal said that essential offices like those of Lok Sabha speaker, Rajya Sabha chairman, secretary generals of two houses, table offices, notice offices, and parliamentary reporters room should be retained in the 84-year old heritage building while other offices and canteen could be shifted to a new building which could be constructed in the Parliament House complex.
"It (the new building) should be away from the main building but not far off. The canteen should be part of this new building," Bansal said.
Countering the logic that a new building would be needed if there is increase in the strength of the two houses, Bansal said that the central hall could be turned into Lok Sabha. He said that Rajya Sabha can shift to the place where Lok Sabha holds its sitting.
Structural stability of the heritage structure could be strengthened through modern techniques such as retrofitting, he said.
Bansal's remarks assume significance as Lok Sabha speaker has given approval for setting up a high-powered committee to suggest an alternative complex.
Lok Sabha secretary general T.K. Viswanathan had said last month that there was need for an alternate complex as the existing building was heavily used and cannot take the strain.
He said footfalls were increasing and the heritage character should be preserved.
The Central Public Works Department had also said that the parliament building needs renovation as there were apprehensions of loosening of small ceiling tiles.
The foundation stone of Parliament House building was laid in 1921. Constructed at a cost of Rs.83 lakh, it was inaugurated in January 1927.
Sources said heritage committee of Parliament is also expected to meet over the next few days.