HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

480 Lutyens’ bungalows in Delhi to be razed, rebuilt

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 05, 2014
First Published: 22:31 IST(5/1/2014) | Last Updated: 22:44 IST(5/1/2014)

The Centre has finalised a plan to raze and rebuild 480 structures in the Lutyens’ bungalow zone, home to some of the most influential addresses in the country.

Vice-president Hamid Ansari, all cabinet ministers, opposition leaders including BJP's LK Advani, former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, senior judges, army officers, bureaucrats and lawmakers are among the occupants of these bungalows built between 1912 and 1930 by the British for government officials. 

Two weeks ago, the union urban development ministry moved a cabinet note proposing to raze and rebuild the bungalows in tune with present-day requirements.

The bungalows are structurally unsafe and have outlived their 60-year life, the note says. The redevelopment is expected to cost around Rs. 3,000 crore. 

"The heritage character of the Lutyens’ bungalow zone will be retained. We won't tinker with the façade of the bungalows," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

There are 1,200 houses in the bungalow zone. The 480 that will be rebuilt are among the 588 owned by the government. A few years ago, a survey by the central public works department (CPWD), the ministry’s agency tasked with their maintenance, had found a majority of these to be structurally unsafe.

Maintenance is also expensive. The CPWD spends between Rs. 35 and Rs. 40 crore on their upkeep every year.

"These bungalows have outlived their economical life of 60 years," a ministry official told HT on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. "Every other day we get complaints from occupants about cracks in the wall, plaster peeling off, blocked pipelines, dysfunctional electrical units," the official said.

The redevelopment proposal has been pending with the ministry for some years now.

"It’s only recently we moved the cabinet note to stakeholder ministries seeking their comment," said the official.

Earlier, there was a plan to build multi-storeyed residential towers in face of the space crunch facing the Capital, but the idea was shot down.    

Even after the cabinet clears the plan, it will be some years before new bungalows will be ready. The ministry has set a 2035 deadline as a large number of VIPs live in the area and finding alternative accommodations for them would take time.

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