Haryana Lokhit Party president and former minister of state for home Gopal Kanda ran up rent dues of `18 lakh for overstaying in a government bungalow after losing entitlement, but the state government has not started the process yet to recover this money.
Kanda, who had resigned from the Bhupinder Singh Hooda ministry in August 2012 after Delhi Police booked him for abetting the suicide of a former airhostess on his airline, stayed in the ministerial bungalow (512) in Sector 18 of Chandigarh for 21 months thereafter. The state authorities wrote many times to the squatter former minister and his wife to ask them to vacate the government accommodation but all in vain.
In 2013, the chief secretary’s office at one stage even threatened to initiate eviction proceedings, citing the Haryana Ministers’ Salaries and Allowances Act, 1970, under which house allotment is to ministers, while Kanda was then independent legislator from Sirsa. The former minister vacated the house on May 19, 2014, a few days after he withdrew support to the Hooda government and launched his political outfit for the assembly elections.
While the notices stopped thereafter, the state government, under the Congress rule then and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime now, did not try to recover the penalty and other charges from Kanda. In June 2014, the chief secretary’s office wrote to the executive engineer, construction division, public works department (buildings and roads), asking it to calculate the penal rent and other charges with interest. “But there was no response,” sources told HT.
After three reminders, the PWD (B and R) informed the political and parliamentary affairs department this January 7 that the penal rent and other charges worked out to about `18 lakh. The PWD officials attribute the delay to a “communication gap”. Besides Kanda, three other former ministers—Savitri Jindal (India’s richest woman), Kiran Choudhry, and OP Jain—and two chief parliamentary secretaries—Ram Kishan Gujjar and Zile Ram Chochra— also accumulated rent dues running into lakhs of rupees for unauthorised stay in sprawling official bungalows after losing the privilege. Their dues ranged from `11.5 lakh to `22 lakh. On January 29, 2014, Hooda, the-then chief minister, in a gesture of munificence towards his colleagues, decided to waive the penal rent and other charges of ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries. The total sum was `81 lakh.
However, Kanda, according to minutes of the cabinet meeting, did not get the waiver because he had “not vacated the house” by then. The waiver to the others was justified by citing the illness of the close kin of Jain and Zile Ram. Both had resigned from their posts in June 2011 after their names cropped up in connection with the death of a former village head in Karnal.