iconimg Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Moushumi Das Gupta , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 07, 2013
Ever wondered how the bungalows occupied by ministers in Lutyens' Bungalow Zone (LBZ) always look so spiffy and grand? It's because the government spends anywhere between Rs. 30 crore and Rs. 35 crore annually on their upkeep.

In 2012-13, the central public works department (CPWD), in-charge of the maintenance of LBZ accommodations, spent Rs. 35.63 crore on the overall upkeep of bungalows occupied by 77 central ministers.

This works out to Rs. 46 lakh per bungalow or roughly the cost of a small two-bedroom flat in Noida or Ghaziabad.

Besides the ministers' bungalows, there are 223 others in LBZ occupied by judges of Supreme Court and high court, top army brass, commission chairmen, cabinet secretary and top law and policy makers.

The CPWD spent another Rs. 27 crore towards the maintenance of these bungalows. For each of these bungalows, the cost of their upkeep is Rs. 12.10 lakh. This means that CPWD spent roughly four times the amount on maintaining the ministerial bungalows.

Last fiscal, CPWD had all together spent Rs. 62.63 crore on the facelift of the 300 bungalows.

"One of the reasons for the high maintenance cost is that these bungalows are very old," an urban development (UD) ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

"They were built during the 1930s. At times specific demands such as a special kind of tiles or furnishings and upholstery add to the cost." CPWD comes under the UD ministry.

Another official said the maintenance includes all civil, electrical and horticulture related work.

"The electrical component includes installation of ACs as well," the official said. "Many of the VIPs do not adhere to the number of ACs that can be installed in a bungalow. A chunk of the maintenance cost is spent on maintaining the gardens, where again because of demands there is cost overrun."

Officials admitted that there was ample scope to curtail costs without affecting the quality of maintenance.

The CPWD has for long proposed redevelopment of LBZ bungalows, but the plan remains only on paper.