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India’s new Parliament Building can last 150 years, seat 150% more

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bY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

 NEW DELHI: India will celebrate 75 years of its independence in 2022 with a new triangular Parliament Building in place. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid its foundation stone on December 10. The present circular Parliament House is a century-old beauty, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. 

The new building will have a life of more than 150 years with more than 150% increase in seating capacity, the government said. While the interior of the new Lok Sabha will have the theme of peacock, the national bird, Rajya Sabha will have national flower lotus as its theme.

Besides the two Houses, the building will have a Constitution Hall that will exhibit an original Constitution and a digital form for people to read page-by-page. This will be the only portion of the building that will have no storeys.

The rest of the complex will have four floors. Each floor will have offices of ministers and committee rooms. The first floor will have dining space for member of Parliament, VVIPs and visitors.

It will also have a central lounge. Besides being earthquake proof, the new building will be eco-friendly and consume significantly less power. “The project will be completed in time in 2022 and the winter session will be held here,” says Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

The building will be earthquake-resistant, and adaptable to the most modern digital technology.

Provisions will be made in the furniture for smart displays, biometrics for ease of voting, digital language interpretation or translation systems, and recording infrastructure to produce real-time metadata and programmable microphones.

 Interiors of the halls will be fitted with virtual sound simulations to set the right levels of reverberation sound and limit the echo.

 It will incorporate indigenous architecture from different parts of the country, and showcase the cultural diversity.

 Around 2,000 people will be directly involved in its construction, while another 9,000 will be there indirectly. 

More than 200 artistes from various parts of the country will also work for the building.

The existing Parliament building will be conserved as an archaeological asset of the country.

 The project of building the new Parliament Building has been given to Tata Projects Ltd.

The design has been prepared by HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd. The building is to come up on a 64,500-square-metre area. The total cost is estimated at INR9.71 billion.

 The building will have six entrances: A ceremonial entrance for the President and Prime Minister; one for the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, and MPs; a ceremonial entrance in general; another entrance for MPs; and two public entrances.

 The new Parliament complex will have four floors — lower ground, upper ground, first and second floors.

 A total of 120 office spaces, including committee rooms, major offices of the ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Lok Sabha Secretariat, Rajya Sabha secretariat, offices of the Prime Minister, some MPs and offices for staff and security personnel will be housed in the new Parliament. It will also have a reading room for MPs. It will not have a Central Hall.

 The Lok Sabha chamber, which will come up on a 3,015-square-metre area, will have 888 seats instead of present 543 seats, spread over an area of 1,145 square metres.

 The Rajya Sabha chamber, spread over an area of 3,220 square metres, will have 384 seats against its current strength of 245 seats on a 1,232-square-metre area.

 During a joint session, the new Lok Sabha chamber will be able to accommodate 1,224 members. The MPs will be seated in two-seater benches, which can accommodate three in case of joint sessions, in a horseshoe pattern in front of the Speaker.

 An adjacent building, which will come up on the site of Shram Shakti Bhavan, will have rooms for all MPs, and will be connected via an underpass.

 The building will be earthquake-resistant, and adaptable to the most modern digital technology. It will incorporate indigenous architecture from different parts of the country, and showcase the cultural diversity.

 Officials said the building will have the most modern security and surveillance system. “The security check will be mostly non-intrusive,” said Bimal Patel, the designer of Central Vista redevelopment project. Dholpur and red stone from Rajasthan will be largely used.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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