Chandigarh mayor says no to official residence, MC spends ₹3 lakh on makeover
Municipal corporation says annual renovation is part of mayor’s entitlementUpdated: Feb 14, 2020 01:21 IST
If there’s one house in Chandigarh that repeatedly requires whitewash year after year, it’s that of the city’s mayor in Sector 24.
Already repainted during mayor Davesh Moudgil’s tenure in 2018 and then again the next year before mayor Rajesh Kumar Kalia moved in, the entire one kanal house has again been whitewashed. Besides, the curtains have been dry cleaned and sofa covers replaced at a cost of ₹3 lakh.
This, despite the fact that the new mayor, Raj Bala Malik, has already announced her decision against shifting there, and to use the premises just as a temporary camp office.
While the 2018 makeover cost MC ₹16 lakh and took five months, another ₹3 lakh were spent in 2019.
MC executive engineer Ravinder Sharma, in-charge of the house, contended that the renovation was well within the mayor’s annual entitlement, while Malik said it was routine renovation, even if the house will be used as a camp office.
Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress leader of opposition Devinder Babla said the party’s mayors had made it a habit to splurge public money even when the corporation was facing its worst financial crisis ever, forcing it to impose one tax after another.
“There has to be a rule in place that if the mayor house is not being used, there should be no renovation,” he said.
“What was the need for MC to deck up the mayoral house when Malik has already declared that she will not stay there?” Babla questioned, adding that the BJP leaders had no concern for the city. “That is the reason they are looking for their own comfort, whether approving fuel for their private cars or seeking personal staff at public expenses,” he said.
Vinod Vashisht, convener, City Forum of Residents’ Welfare Organisations (CFORWO), asked, “Do they whitewash their personal houses every year?”
“A normal house does not require renovation for at least three to four years or even longer than that. Here, the mayoral house is renovated every year after the new mayor assumes office. This is nothing but sheer wastage of public money, and should be stopped,” he said.
HOUSE OF CONTROVERSIES
Last year, huge drama was seen after Kalia’s election on January 18, as outgoing mayor Davesh Moudgil accused Kalia, his fellow party councillor, of moving into the house even as it was still in his possession.
On the other hand, Kalia had expressed displeasure over the delay on Moudgil’s part to vacate the house, and also claimed that Moudgil’s children had doodled on walls.
Moudgil, who had relinquished the charge on January 18, had the permission to stay at the official residence till January 25, an extension given to him to shift his belongings.
But Kalia had claimed that the house was already vacant and Moudgil was unnecessarily keeping its possession.
Later, Kalia had demanded multiple pieces of new furniture, over and above his entitlement, but dropped the idea after media scrutiny.