Bangalore: Following the diamond jubilee celebrations in June this year, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly will now be witnessing a major renovation work adding a new and modern touch to the majestic two storeyed assembly hall of the Vidhana Soudha. Speaking to City Express, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker, KG Bopaiah said, “The works including civil, electrical and installation of audio-video systems will be completed by December end and the renovated hall will host the Joint Session of the Legislature to be held January next.”
The speaker added, “The renovation work would include the installation of a modern electronic voting system with latest technology while the entire assembly hall with its furniture and upholstery will be refurbished and modernised in such a manner that it will retain its originality as well as its unique heritage.”
The Karnataka Public Works Department has already called the tenders for taking up the civil works and electrical works including updation of the audio-visual facilities in the gigantic portals of one of the most beautiful assembly building complexes in Asia. The audio-visual system with the latest speaker phones, voting button types and the display board system will be imported as per specifications. With the assembly hall presently having an obsolete air cooling system, it will now make way for a modern, centralised air conditioning system.
The renovation which will begin next month will be costing Rs 17 crore. The last renovation work was carried out in 1986 for the SAARC Summit. The Legislative Assembly chamber, measuring 125 by 132 feet and 40 feet high, is located in the first floor of the central wing. It has a seating accommodation for 268 members with provision for future expansion to accommodate about 100 more members by re-adjustment of the seating arrangements.
The majestic twelve 40-foot columns in front of the assembly hall provides an imposing background for the central dome and six smaller ones. The brainchild of late Kengal Hanumanthaiah, this architectural marvel has remained truly a secular edifice, showing features of Indo-Islamic, Dravidian and British architecture. In fact, it is one of the largest of the Legislative buildings and impresses many visitors as it is larger and more beautiful than similar buildings in Australia, the United States and even Canada.
In its 60 years of its existence, the hallowed portals has seen the constitution of 13 assemblies (since 1952), 18 speakers, 32 chief ministers, 22 opposition leaders (since 1962), five times President’s rule and a record number of legislations. Apart from this, the assembly hall has witnessed five historic events: the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait by S Radhakrishnan; the SAARC Summit in 1986 ; the All India Speakers conference, 2002; and the the Joint Session address by the then President Dr Abdul Kalam in 2002.
But in recent times, the historic hall has seen some unspeakable horrors: the violent protests by elected but disqualified legislators, the porngate scandal and definitely the deterioration in debates, discussions, the conduct of its members and stalling of the proceedings of the house, regular absenteeism and non-participation despite getting the best hike in salaries and allowances since 1952.
On the same lines as Vidhana Sabha, there is a proposal to renovate the Legislative Council too in the coming future.