Congress asks Centre to let it keep offices at ‘concessional’ rent

  • Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 08, 2015 00:27 IST
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi arrives for a CWC Meeting at AICC Headquarters, in New Delhi. The party has asked the Centre if it can continue to pay concessional rent for its offices in Delhi for another three years. (HT Photo)

Standing on the verge of being termed “unauthorised occupants” of four government bungalows including its 24, Akbar Road national headquarters, the Congress has urged the Centre to allow it to use the properties for another three years on “concessional” rent.

Besides it headquarters, the Congress is also facing eviction from 26, Akbar Road which houses the Seva Dal office, 5, Raisina Road which houses Youth Congress and NSUI offices and C-II/109 Chanakyapuri which is allotted to Vincent George, an aide of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Unauthorised occupants have to pay a penal rate of rent – called the market rate --for overstaying which is almost three times the normal or concessional rent. While the concessional rent of the four units including the AICC headquarters varies between approximately Rs 26,000 to Rs 77,000 per month, the market rate is between Rs 67,000 to Rs 2.3 lakh.

The market rate fixed by the government is heavily subsidised as compared to the prevailing market rate in the respective localities.

The Union urban development ministry, which had in January served notice to the Congress cancelling the allotments, has since October refused to accept rent from the Congress for the four properties forcing AICC treasurer Motilal Vohra to dash a letter to Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu last month.

“… I would once again request your kind indulgence in the matter of grant of extension of time for construction by a period of three years from the date of receipt of the approval to the revised building plans from the MCD as also direction to the Directorate of Estates (DoE) to accept rent for the four units until the period of requested retention,” said Vohra’s November 24 letter, which was seen by HT.

Under the UD ministry guidelines, a political party which has been allotted land has to vacate the government bungalow within three years from the date of taking over possession of the plot. Congress party was allotted a plot in Rouse Avenue in 2010 to build its new office.

Senior UD ministry officials said that though the Congress’ request for an extension was under consideration but as per rule, the party would have to pay the market rent for overstaying from June 2013 onwards.

“The extension has to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation,” said an official.

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