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HT readers' take: Splurging on officials’ houses must stop

The renovation work at the office and residence of the new UT adviser is being carried out with crores of rupees of hard-earned taxpayers money. Similar conditions prevailed before independence when directors of the East India Company came for a fixed tenure and went back with tons of money. The administration’s mindset remains colonial. Self-introspection is the need of the hour. The print media, which is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, has an important role to play in exposing the renovation work.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 16, 2015 13:40 IST
government houses,senior officials,bungalows

Bureaucrats are like directors of East India Company

The renovation work at the office and residence of the new UT adviser is being carried out with crores of rupees of hard-earned taxpayers money. Similar conditions prevailed before independence when directors of the East India Company came for a fixed tenure and went back with tons of money. The administration’s mindset remains colonial. Self-introspection is the need of the hour. The print media, which is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, has an important role to play in exposing the renovation work.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Politicians, bureaucrats increasing financial burden on public

Top politicians and senior bureaucrats have been spending taxpayers money lavishly for renovation of their offices and residences without any scruples. Though they enjoy the highest pay and perks in the country, they fail to realize they have a duty towards the public and the underprivileged to improve basic infrastructure, medical care, education, and housing and ensure affordable food items.

Sateesh Dadwal, Chandigarh

Renovation is total waste of taxpayers’ money

In the name of renovation government houses provided to senior officials are nowadays turned into luxurious bungalows. It is a total waste of public funds. But what is very sad is that there is nobody to question the administration about such profligate spending. The government should fix a particular amount for renovation of these houses and, if the cost exceeds this amount, the officer concerned should have to pay it.
Suman Kansal, Panchkula

Lokpals should step in when regulations are bent

In a developing country like India, where millions of people are deprived of basic amenities and destined to live in large slums like Dharavi in Mumbai, turning government houses into luxury homes at the cost of taxpayers’ money is a cruel joke. Lokpals should intervene at the stage when rules are manipulated to the undue advantage of the administration’s top brass.
Ashok Raheja, Ambala Cantt

Admn has reneged on pledge to reign in wasteful spending

The recent renovation spree by the Chandigarh administration at a senior official’s home is another example of its incompetence in failing to stop such wasteful expenditure. With this kind of money it would be better to build a brand new houses and offices that could last for many years to come. We are living in a world of austerity and this kind of expenditure gives a wrong signal. This also deviates from the government’s pledge to reign in wasteful expenditure. It’s taxpayer’s money that is going down the drain.
Sukhpal Singh, via email

Renovation necessary for efficient performance by officials

When such houses were constructed long back the architects might not have comprehended the future requirements of officials in keeping with changing times.Yes, renovation of old accommodation and provide all necessary facilities that are not extravagant at the cost of public exchequer is necessary for efficient performance of duties by officials. A fair assessment of the logical needs should be entrusted to some autonomous body with total transparency, whose recommendations should form the basis of the extent of changes, modifications, additions and alterations to be carried out.
Vijay Kumar Soi, Chandigarh

Fix timeline for renovation of official accommodation

Whenever there is a change of guard in the political and bureaucratic setup a lot of money is spent on renovation and or repairs of houses allotted to bureaucrats and politicians. According to a rough estimate the UT advisor’s official residence is being renovated at a whopping cost of more than Rs 2 crore. One wonders as to why these houses are redone every time they change hands despite being in perfect condition. I propose renovation and repairs of these government houses should be brought under the purview of public scrutiny. The incumbent must furnish details of renovation requirements and the duration of work must be fixed so as to avert any unwanted repairs or renovation.
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh

Renovation costing a huge amount of money shameful

The recent renovation work costing a huge amount of money at the official residence of the UT adviser is not only unwarranted and unethical but shameful and vulgar. It is equally shameful when he justifies this spending by saying “I don’t prepare estimates, but I do want the house to be habitable”. Were the previous occupants of this house were cattle and rats? The money wasted on these luxuries is taxpayers money. As a bureaucrat doesn’t he know no renovation is undertaken without spending money and approving estimates? Are departments like PWD, electricity and engineering carrying out the renovation on their own? These departments are told to undertake renovation according to the adviser’s instructions. The moral duty and responsibility of responsible bureaucrats of the Chandigarh administration is to practice austerity not to waste a single rupee of public funds on such wasteful exercises.
Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar

Such extravagant spending is nothing new

Such extravagant spending is not new to the present UT adviser as this practice has been going on for years after independence. Every politician and bureaucrat of any category always tries to spend taxpayers money for his own comfort. Some strict regulations and guidelines need to be framed and implemented with provisions to ensure total compliance to save public money which can be utilised for welfare schemes and development projects.
Raghunath Chhabra, Chandigarh

Time has come to fix responsibility of officials

Ministers and bureaucrats in India live at the cost of honest taxpayers much like rulers of the Mughal era. According to their rank they are entitled to specific types of accommodation and for its maintenance separate funds are allotted. It is sad that over and above the authorised expenditure funds are misappropriated for the upkeep and maintenance of officials’ residences at the cost of junior employees who are deprived of basic amenities. Funds are also diverted from other departments as well as public sector undertakings for the purpose. The time has come to fix responsibility and accountability of the ministers and bureaucrats.
Col SK Aggarwal (retd), Panchkula

Spending `2 crore for renovation a prudent investment

My letter is directed towards all the hypocrites who are crying hoarse over the proposed renovation of the office and house of the UT advisor, citing austerity concerns. You want the ‘City Beautiful’ to be a “world class” city with modern facilities but without spending accordingly. You want it to be a tourist hub but simultaneously want its top officer to sit in an office surrounded by racks of files smelling of dampness. You want him to live in a house having plain cement concrete flooring, creaking doors and windows having square ventilators. You want him to have the toilets fitted with Indian WCs. What a retrograde approach! In my view spending a petty sum of Rs. 2 crore will be a prudent investment.
JS Jaspal, Chandigarh

Public servants need a total change in mindset

Officials of the Chandigarh administration have crossed all limits of shamelessness. Spending a huge amount to the tune of crores of rupees on the renovation of the house and office of the UT adviser clearly indicates gross misuse of public funds. How could the administration release such a huge amount of money to be spent on just renovation? All the norms have been sidelined while using the funds. Where is the accountability for such an extravagant exercise? The UT adviser is just a public servant and not a “VVIP”. Public servants need to change their mindset.
Upendra Bhatnagar, Zirakpur

Need for a watchdog to oversee renovation

Officials of the UT administration are bent on distorting the heritage of our City Beautiful. The senior and more powerful officers are altering the basic architecture of their residential houses and offices. They alter them to suit their whims and fancies by spending extravagantly. In my view the subordinates working under these officers are responsible for all these since they are in the habit of doing flattery to get personal benefits from them. There is need for a watchdog to oversee the acts of these officers.
Saroj, via email

Effective mechanism to check practice is need of the hour

This practice of renovating offices and residences beyond ordinary requirements was started about two decades ago by a respected government official in Delhi. Since then as this practice has become unrestricted and the menace has now grown out of proportion in government circles. The best way to check the practice can be that only 20% of revenue generated by a building since its last renovation can only be spent. This is in tune with provisions of the Income Tax Act for rented property. A mechanism system to check the practice is the need of the hour.

Ashok Bery, Chandigarh

Govt must put an end to such unnecessary practices

There is a saying that nothing is impossible if you are not to do it yourself and, while spending or overspending, it doesn’t pinch you if it’s not your money. This is exactly what is happening nowadays. The days of kings and queens were long gone, so we thought, but we have now been proved wrong .These modern day kings can splurge public money without any remorse as they think they are our rulers as there are no checks and balances. A common man thinks twice before spending anything on even minor repairs in his own house because of his modest budget. It looks as if there is no higher authority to check such lavish spending. The UT is under the central government hence the latter must take note of such extravagant spending and immediately put an end to these unnecessary exercises. That will go a long way in sending a message that the government means business.
Devinder Garg, Chandigarh

Spending public funds on renovation must be transparent

The decision of the administration to renovate the UT advisor’s house at a huge cost has irked city residents who feel betrayed as the administration has not conceded to their demands of need based changes they had been fighting for decades. In one stroke crores of rupees were sanctioned for renovations. There should be no disparity between the high profile officials and the general public in following rules have been laid down.The administration needs to frame guidelines on the subject and a specific amount needs to be spelled out for additions and alterations to every new occupant of a government house. Spending taxpayers funds needs to be transparent.

Ashok Raheja, Ambala Cantt

Fresh norms on renovation of govt houses needed

What is the necessity of providing custom made houses for administration officials and under which rule are public funds used to satisfy the whims of senior bureaucrats? Whenever a new incumbent takes over, the entire administration goes head over heels to meet the demands and whims of the top official in regard to providing the best possible furnishings and ambience in the house and office allotted to him without consideration of cost or requirements. Obviously politicians and bureaucrats want to enjoy all the luxury at the cost of exchequer. Fresh norms need to be fixed for providing renovation and furnishing in government. houses and strictly enforced, and expenditure beyond these need to be charged from the occupant.
DS Banati, SAS Nagar

Official extravagance is totally unjustified

It becomes tougher for a common man to survive whenever any increase in taxes is announced. And when one’s hard earn money is wasted by someone on his luxurious lifestyle it is like adding salt to one’s wounds. It adds fuel to fire that public funds are wasted to provide luxury to officials who justify it because he is empowered and no one dare question them.
Kamaljit Kaur, SAS Nagar

Do away with palatial accommodation for bureaucrats

Spending Rs over one crore on the renovation of a house, even if it is that of the UT administrator, sounds almost vulgar. The classification of the houses into various categories was done by the British to distinguish natives from the whites. That legacy still remains as it suits bureaucrats. The government should review the housing policy and allot houses as per job requirements. Yes, the status of a person has to be kept in mind, but then it does not have to a palatial house.
Madhu RD Singh, Ambala Cantt

Bureaucrats, politicians are misusing their power

In India a very large number of people don’t get two square meals a day .Transparency International rates India as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Its bureaucracy has been rated as the worst in Asia. Instead of resolving urgent problems facing the public, bureaucrats and politicians are misusing their power to engage in wasteful spending of taxpayers money.
Lt Col Anil Kabotra (retd), via email

UT engineering dept must be issued clear guidelines

The budget grant available with the UT administration for renovation of government houses is not used evenly for all categories. It is fully utilized for houses of “VIPs” leaving a fraction of money for other houses. Houses of lower level employees are neglected with urgent repairs not being undertaken for years on end. This is the reason senior officials often refuse to vacate their posh houses after they are transferred or become ineligible to continue residing in them. The UT engineering wing should be issued clear guidelines regarding material to be used for renovation and other details including the time gap for the next renovation.

Seema Bahga, Chandigarh

Adviser’s luxury comes to the fore

Move has angered city residents, lower rung officials After dragging its feet on regularization of need based changes in houses of more than 5,000 city residents for over a decade, the UT administration has quietly given a go by to all itsrules and regulations whileallowing changes in a grade II heritage building set aside for the
new UT adviser to suit his lifestyle.
SC Luthra, Manimajra

Admn should exercise restraint

The expenditure being incurred on the renovation of the official residence and office of the new UT advisor has become the talk of the town and the print media has also highlighted this wasteful spending of taxpayers money. On the other hand, houses of other UT employees are crying for minimal repairs. The condition of houses allotted to them is worse than those in slum areas.
DP Gautam, via email

Lower-level admn employeeshave got a raw deal

The UT administration’s senior bureaucrats have never given serious thought to the pathetic condition of most government houses allotted to staff in the city. Repeated complaints by employees for undertaking repairs have fallen on deaf ears. In a recent survey it was found more than 1,000 government in the city are not in a habitable condition as some of them were constructed more than five decades ago and urgently required renovation and repairs.
Kulbeer Singh, Chandigarh

First Published: Mar 16, 2015 13:17 IST