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Ceiling in Parliament room comes down,raises concern for heritage building

Bricks and concrete flakes came crashing down from the ceiling of room 37 of Parliament House recently,raising security concerns for the building’s occupants and,at once,delivering a telling comment on the 82-year-old heritage structure’s maintenance.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi |
July 14, 2009 1:28:09 am

Bricks and concrete flakes came crashing down from the ceiling of room 37 of Parliament House recently,raising security concerns for the building’s occupants and,at once,delivering a telling comment on the 82-year-old heritage structure’s maintenance.

Room 37 is allotted to Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.

An inspection,carried out by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan after the incident,has thrown up serious “implications” for the safety of ministers and other staff. It was found that several LPG cylinders — for use in the railway canteen on the first floor — were stacked in the open space right above Deora’s room. In a meeting between Khan and Parliament security officials on July 6,it emerged that running a canteen in Parliament House was a “potential threat to the safety of the structure”,a heritage building.

After inspecting room 37 and the canteen soon after the incident,Khan had stated in an official note on July 2: “It is a matter of grave concern and carelessness that in the Parliament House,a heritage building,this kind of incident was allowed to happen. Sanctity and security of the Parliament House has to be maintained. The storage of gas cylinders in the open will have serious security risks. This has been repeatedly taken up but no action has been taken so far.”

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The Deputy Chairman further stated: “Similarly,the damage of the structure due to water seepage is also a serious issue,and if immediate action to shift the canteen and wash area is not taken,it may have serious implications,including the safety of the occupants in the offices on the ground floor.”

The room was empty on June 30 when parts of the ceiling came down,but furniture and other fixtures were damaged. The twisted ceiling fan can be seen dangling a few feet above the minister’s table,and mortar from the ceiling remains scattered on the floor.

Officials said the Deputy Chairman has sent a report to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari on the incident. Apart from the cylinders,cooking oil was also found scattered at places in the canteen,and there was discarded and partly rotting food.

While officials still want to shift the canteen to plot 118,the Ministry of Urban Development had rejected a similar proposal from the Lok Sabha Secretariat earlier,saying the said plot had been declared ‘District Green’ and therefore,no construction could take place there.

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Khan has,however asked officials of the Central Public Works Department to submit a plan to shift the canteen. He will take take up the matter with the Ministry for changing land use,official notes reveal.

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First published on: 14-07-2009 at 01:28:09 am

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