President Pranab Mukherjee will host a dinner on Saturday for the union council of ministers and other dignitaries to mark three years in office, a period that saw the launch of a smart city project and efforts to revive heritage properties in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“We have started the celebrations for the conclusion of the third year and opening of the fourth year. It has been a very busy year," Omita Paul, secretary to the President, told reporters on Friday.
A smart city project within the President’s Estate and efforts to revive heritage properties in Rashtrapati Bhavan were among the achievements that marked Mukherjee's three years in office. Paul said the thrust was on making the presidential palace accessible to the public.
"About 20 lakh people have visited Rashtrapati Bhavan in the past three years," she said.
To mark his three years in office, Mukherjee inaugurated a restored clock tower at the President's Estate on Friday. The restoration was done by INTACH and IIT-Delhi.
The tower, a heritage structure built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1924, was constructed as an institute for men of the President's Bodyguard and had reading and recreational rooms and canteens. Since 1947, it has been occupied by the President's Bodyguard as its regimental headquarters.
Talking about welfare activities undertaken among workers and residents of the President's Estate, Paul said the smart township will be ready by the yearend.
"The smart city is in the last leg. It is going to be a self sufficient township. It will have free wi-fi and will be able to manage its water and electricity use efficiently," she said.
An in-residence programme initiated by Mukherjee was scaled up during the year with students and teachers being included under its ambit.
Another achievement is phase-II of the construction of a museum, which will have a built-up area of 10,000 sq m and present the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s history using modern and interactive techniques.
The highlight of Mukherjee's third year in office was the visit of US President Barrack Obama as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. During the course of the third year, Mukherjee also received China’s President Xi Jinping, President Tony Tan Kengyam of Singapore and President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.
Mukherjee made six visits to foreign nations – Vietnam, Bhutan, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Belarus. He also made 105 domestic visits.
Venu Rajamony, the President's press secretary, said four books will be released to mark Mukherjee's three years in office. They include two volumes of his selected speeches and two books on the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"Abode under the Dome" and "Right of the Line: The President's Bodyguard (1773-2015)" will be released by vice president Hamid Ansari and home minister Rajnath Singh.
The two volumes of selected speeches contain important speeches delivered by Mukherjee since he assumed office on July 25, 2012 as the 13th President.