Context: The Prime Minister inaugurated the New Parliament building recently during which a commemorative coin of Rs 75 denomination was also released.
Understanding the Old and New Indian Parliamentary Infrastructure:
The Old Parliament Building:
- It is a colonial-era building designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, which took six years to construct (1921-1927).
- Originally called the Council House, the building housed the Imperial Legislative Council.
- It is popularly believed that the unique circular shape of the Chausath Yogini temple in Morena, (Madhya Pradesh) had inspired the colosseum design of the Council House.
- The Parliament building witnessed the addition of two floors in 1956 to address the demand for more space.
- In 2006, the Parliament Museum was added to showcase the 2,500 years of rich democratic heritage of India.
- The building had to be modified to a large extent to suit the purpose of a modern Parliament.
Need for a new Parliament Building
- Narrow Seating Space for MPs: The present building was never designed to accommodate a bicameral legislature for a full-fledged democracy. The number of Lok Sabha seats has remained unaltered at 545 and is likely to increase substantially after 2026. The Central Hall has seating capacity only for 440 persons. When the Joint Sessions are held, the problem of limited seats amplifies. Due to limited space for movement, it is also a huge security risk.
- Distressed Infrastructure: Over the period addition in services like water supply lines, sewer lines, air conditioning, fire-fighting, CCTV, Audio Video system, which were not originally planned, have led to seepages and destroyed the overall aesthetics of the building. The fire safety is a major concern as the building is not designed according to the present fire norms. Numerous new electric cables have been put up which are potential fire hazards.
- Obsolete Communication Structures: In the present Parliament House, the communications infrastructure and technology is antiquated. The acoustics of all the halls need major improvement.
- Safety Concerns: There are structural safety concerns of the building. The current Parliament building was built when Delhi was in Seismic Zone-II, currently it is in Seismic Zone-IV.
- Inadequate Workspace for Employees: With increasing demand for workspaces, inner service corridors were converted into offices which resulted in poor quality and narrow workspaces. To accommodate ever increasing space requirements, sub-partitions were created within existing workspaces, leading to crammed offices.
New Parliament Building and its Key Features
- The new parliament building was under construction for the last three years as part of the ambitious Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista plan.
- The Central Vista plan aims to undertake several projects to revamp the government infrastructure in the national capital which has not seen significant changes for several decades.
- The master plan of the project was conceived in September 2019, a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
- Key features of the new parliament building include:
|Triangular Design of the Building
|Spacious Legislative Chambers
|The state-of-the-art ‘Constitutional Hall’
|‘Sengol’ as a symbol of transfer of power:
|Other Key Features||Energy Efficient Building: With a focus on energy efficiency, the new complex is a “platinum-rated green building” and showcases India’s “commitment towards sustainable development.”
The features of the new Rs 75 commemorative coin include:
- Shape and Diameter: The coin is circular in shape with a diameter of 44mm.
- Composition: The coin is made of a quaternary alloy, which consists of 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% nickel, and 5% zinc.
- Obverse Side: The face of the coin features the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the center. Below the Ashoka Pillar, the inscription “Satyameva Jayate” in Hindi, which is the national motto of India, is inscribed.
- On the left periphery of the coin, the word “Bharat” is written in Devnagri script, and on the right periphery, the word “INDIA” is written in English.
- Reverse Side: The reverse side of the coin displays an image of the new parliament building.
- The upper periphery of the coin has the inscription “Sansad Sankul” written in Devanagari script, which means “Parliament Complex.”
- On the lower periphery, the words “Parliament Complex” are written in English.
Acquiring and Spending of commemorative coins:
- If someone wants to acquire commemorative coins, they can do so by visiting the website of the Securities of Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL).
- Most often, such coins are meant to be just collectables as their worth may not necessarily be the same as their face value– they are partially made of precious metals such as silver or gold; The latest commemorative coin is 50 percent silver.
- For instance, in 2018, the government issued a commemorative coin of Rs 100 denomination to honour former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but it’s currently available on SPMCIL’s website for Rs 5,717.
- This coin is 50 percent silver, and has other metals.
Power to Mint Coins:
- The power to design and mint coins in India rests with the central government, as per the Coinage Act, 2011.
- The government has the authority to determine the design, specifications, and denominations of coins.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plays a role in the distribution of coins that are supplied by the central government.
- Regarding commemorative coins, the central government has the discretion to release them based on its own choice.
- However, it can also mint commemorative coins upon receiving requests from third parties. For example, in the past, commemorative coins have been issued to honour notable individuals like actor and politician Late MG Ramachandran and Carnatic singer MS Subbalakshmi. These decisions were made in response to requests made by Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha for the MS Subbalakshmi commemorative coins and by the Tamil Nadu government for the MG Ramachandran commemorative coins.
- All coins, including regular circulation coins and commemorative coins, are minted at the four mints owned by the Government of India. These mints are located in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Noida.
- The country released its first commemorative coin in 1964 in honour of Jawaharlal Nehru, who had passed away that year.