Hoping to put an end to the controversy surrounding the allocation of land for her post-retirement home, President Pratibha Patil has decided to give up the Pune plot. Her office conveyed this decision to the prime minister’s office on Friday.
The move came after several media reports that the land was initially earmarked for war widows. Also, an organisation of ex-servicemen alleged more than 260,000 square feet of land was allotted to Patil.
A president, after retirement, is entitled to government accommodation of 4,498 square feet at a place of his or her choice anywhere in India.The president’s office has all along maintained no rules were flouted. And though the land was allotted for her stay "only during her lifetime, with no rights of ownership, transfer lease, etc", Patil has chosen to give up her claim.
Pointing out that Patil always stood for women’s issues, especially during her tenure as Rajasthan governor, her office said, “When she has pursued the matter of war widows with such passion and concern, would she ever think of dislocating or coming in the way of creating an accommodation for them?”
It added that the President was “pained” that she was “being portrayed by some people as one … insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen”.
Asked if she’d take an alternative accommodation from the government after her retirement in July, the president’s officer on special duty (public relations), Archana Dutta, told HT, “That is not on her mind now.”
Patil, by her own declaration, has a house in Maharashtra’s Amravati district as well as a 3.82-hectare farmhouse. She also has 3.57 hectares of agricultural land in Jalgaon and another plot in Dhule district of Maharashtra.
Welcoming her decision, ex-serviceman and founder of the organisation Justice for Jawan, Suresh Patil, said, “I would like to congratulate Pratibha Patil. She has made Maharashtra and the whole country proud.”
Inputs from HTC, Pune