He could be an example for ministers and bureaucrats who spend taxpayers’ money on refurbishing their offices and official residences on a whim.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan ensured that his official residence, Varsha, at Malabar Hill is less opulent than it was before he moved in on Friday.
Sources in the public works department (PWD) said that Chavan saved at least Rs 5 crore by rejecting all the changes his predecessor, Ashok Chavan, had approved of three months ago.
Ashok Chavan had ordered a makeover of the 12,000-sq-ft bungalow, which already had expensive interiors, high-value paintings, at least 26 air-conditioners and super-sized colour televisions in each room. The new CM scrapped this plan.
Chavan, however, will continue using basic facilities. The state will provide for the official canteen in the bungalow, and pay power and water bills, and property taxes.
The CM wanted authorities to make his abode as simple as possible, like his New Delhi home, which is a typical, no-frills sarkari quarter.
Chavan has asked the PWD to remove the extra air-conditioners and take all expensive paintings off the walls. The place has now got a fresh coat of less-expensive paint at a cost of Rs16 lakh.
Fancy curtains and sofa covers have been replaced with simple yet elegant fabric that cost Rs2 lakh.
The PWD, somehow, convinced Chavan to allow it to repair the old porch and the stairs, and also raise the height of the outer boundary wall for security reasons. Sources said old scanners and metal detectors have been replaced with new ones on the advice of the police. Chavan has been staying at the state guesthouse Sahyadri since he was sworn in on November 11, 2010, although Varsha was vacant.
His family is in New Delhi. The Chavans held a small house-warming ritual at Varsha on Friday, which was also Chavan’s 100th day in office.