The chief minister’s bungalow in Sector 2 here is being renovated these days for the new Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, who is expected to move in about a month’s time. Those involved in the maintenance of CM’s residence over the years say it’s always a challenge to live up to the expectations of the CM.
Digging up from old files and memories, they particularly remember former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who once insisted on a special kind of flooring in place of carpets at his residence. “The chief minister is allergic to dust and so he has desired marbo-granite tile flooring and removal of carpets,” this note had sent the officers into a tizzy.
The UT home secretary had raised objection saying this hasn’t been done in any house. “It is possible that this may set a precedent for demands from other ministers and high court judges,” he noted. Apart from the demand setting a precedent, the officers were also worried about the costs involved. The engineers promptly alerted the officers that it will cost over Rs 12 lakh.
The file went up to the governor who approved the case and wrote: “As special case, not as precedent.”
However, after the work was done, Badal’s staff followed it up with another demand. “The CM has desired wooden flooring in all the bedrooms and drawing room on the first floor,” wrote his OSD. This caused a sort of panic in the administration. The adviser directed the officers to put it up before the governor with details of all expenditure done on renovating the residences of Punjab and Haryana chief ministers. Of course, the administrator approved this as well.
Another furore was created when a letter from Badal’s office came for making the adjoining green belt (35 feet wide) a part of the CM residence. Even that couldn’t be turned down.
Of course, approvals were not always obtained. During an inspection, it was found that the CMs of both Punjab and Haryana had constructed a number of sheds with asbestos sheet roofing. “This office hasn’t issued any drawings for any kind of barrack/shed,” wrote the chief architect to the engineering chief. The latter also added no approval had been given for that. The sheds still exist, say sources.