Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone and perform “Bhoomi Pujan” for the new Parliament building on December 10, reported ANI. The Speaker, who is the custodian of the Parliament building, extended a formal invitation to Modi for the foundation stone-laying ceremony.

“We started the journey of independent India in the old building, and when we complete 75 years, we will have the session of both Houses in the new Parliament building,” Birla told reporters. “It will not be a building of bricks and stones, it will be the fulfilment of the dreams of 130 crore people.”

He said that the new building, built on an area of 64,500 square metres at a cost of Rs 971 crore, will be earthquake-proof. “It will display local crafts and art from various states,” the Speaker added.

Birla said the building will have a sitting capacity for 1,224 MPs, for joint sessions, while a new office complex for all MPs of both the Houses would be built at the site of the existing Shram Shakti Bhawan. The existing Parliament building, the Speaker said, will be conserved as an archaeological asset of the country.

In September, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new Parliament building. It is part of the Central Vista project. The project has been challenged in the Supreme Court while the Opposition too have raised questions. The government has justified its decision to build a new Parliament building by saying that the current one was “showing signs of distress and over-use”.

The Central Vista is an iconic three-km stretch in the heart of New Delhi that runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Flanked by large green spaces and containing significant structures such as Parliament, the Secretariat buildings and the National Archives, it is recognised around the world as a striking example of innovative urban planning and architecture.