A whopping Rs11.94 crore of your money was spent by the state government in 2010-11 to renovate and beautify the official residences of 24 ministers. This figure came to light in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by an activist, Chetan Kothari.
Ministers are allotted colonial bungalows at Malabar Hill and Nariman Point as their official residences. The money was spent mainly on work like painting, false ceiling, wooden flooring, air-conditioning and wall paneling. Some part was also spent on purchasing new furniture like sofas, chairs, beds and cupboards.
The largest amount (Rs99.87 lakh) was spent on 'Shivgiri', the bungalow allotted to Dilip Walse-Patil, speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly. Following close behind were 'Parnkuty' bungalow, allotted to minister for cooperation and parliamentary affairs Harshwardhan Patil, and 'Meghdoot', allotted to minister for water resources Sunil Tatkare. These bungalows were revamped at a cost of Rs97.88 lakh and Rs97.80 lakh, respectively.
In comparison, the amount spent on renovating 'Varsha' and 'Torna', the bungalows allotted to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, was a relatively low Rs24.60 lakh.
"Generally, the bungalows are renovated by the public works department (PWD) after approval from the chief minister's office, when a new minister takes charge. These bungalows were renovated in 2010-11, after the ministries were allotted in 2009," said a senior PWD official, who did not wish to be named, as he is not allowed to interact with the media.
Tatkare told HT: "The bungalow given to me is an old structure. It was badly in need of repair. The expenditure was incurred on the repair work of the house and not on beautification as such. Even after the repair work, there are leakages in the house."
Health Minister Suresh Shetty, on whose house Rs79.98 lakh was spent, said: "Come and see the house to check what renovation has been done. You should ask the engineers where the money was spent. The building is old and has many leakages, which were repaired. Besides the funds are used only to buy furniture like cupboards." Shetty's official residence is an apartment at Land's End, Malabar Hill.
Kothari, the RTI applicant, said: "This is a mere wastage of public funds. Every time a new minister is appointed, he renovates the huge bungalow as per his whims and fancies. There has to be some limit for such expenses."