It was evident at the 15 January meeting that plenty of improvisation had been needed to shoehorn everyone into parliament: the many lawmakers, reporters, spectators, and employees of parliament offices. Can this building, once the personal theatre of Prime Minister Chandra Sumshere Rana, handle the load of the interim parliament and then the even larger constituent assembly?
The planned 450-member constituent assembly is to be seated in four rows. The meeting hall currently has 340 seats for the 330 representatives. In January at one point, there were 850 people crammed in, although it has a maximum capacity of 755 only. Representatives were literally shoving their way across, and the old royal gallery was anything but for the diplomats and ambassadors seated there.
The hall is icy in the winter and a cauldron in the summer, and damp year-round, due to leaks all over the building. The Royal Gallery of the current building is now used as a special wing for the special guests, foreign diplomats, and dignitaries. Unfortunately, the gallery proved to be anything but comfortable for the guests. It is served by a makeshift bucket toilet.
A proposal for a new parliament building near Singha Darbar's Putali Bagaicha has been on the cards since 2001. At the request of the government the Singha Darbar Secretariat Reconstruction Committee submitted the proposal, complete with blueprints, and assessed a budget of Rs 2.15 billion for the project. The same year, the government allotted 7.5 hectares (150 ropanis) of land for the complex. Nothing has come of the proposal due to budgetary constraints and political instability.
The new building is hemispherical in shape and echoes the designs of pagoda-style temples. There are six planned blocks: the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, libraries, offices of the various parties, offices of the secretariat, and other sections. The total capacity of the House of Representative would be 1,500 people with the National Assembly 1,000. Pakistan's parliament is housed in a similar building.
The complex is designed to accommodate 332 members of the general public, 114 media personnel, 40 special guests, 43 diplomats, 46 executive government officials, 88 guests of the prime-minister and the speaker of the assembly, 88 guests of representatives. There will be parking for 350 vehicles.