Occupy Lutyens'...


Puja Bhattacharjee | April 8, 2013

With the Supreme Court order to the union government to evict former Bihar governor and former chief of the national commission for scheduled castes, Buta Singh, from the Teen Murti Marg house he has been occupying illegally since 2010, the lid is off the muck of illegal occupation of Lutyens’ Delhi houses by has-beens. The SC came down heavily on the union government for cherry-picking occupants of the state-owned houses in the heart of national capital while hearing a petition on the lack of accommodation for the members of the national green tribunal. The court directed the union government to get Buta Singh to vacate the Teen Murti Marg house he occupies at the moment.

However, Buta Singh is not the lone offender in this case of abuse of position. There are dime a dozen ex-MPs, former ministers and cronies who continue to occupy official residences even after having demitted office. An RTI application filed by Delhi-based activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal in 2011 revealed that nine parliamentarians were not only illegally occupying government bungalows but were also not paying a rent that is charged in order to keep these beyond the stipulated time. The 2011 RTI named professor Ram Deo Bhandari, Ajay Singh Chautala, Girish Kumar Sanghi, Sangita Kumari SInghdeo, G Venkatswamy, Devwrat Singh, Jagdish Tytler, and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. The most interesting bit, however, is that the reply to the query left out Meira Kumar, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, who, according to the CPWD records is still occupying the 6, Krishna Menon Marg bungalow allotted to her when she was serving as the union minister for social justice while another at Akbar Road was allotted to her after she became the speaker.

Getting back to the Buta Singh case, the court rightly refused to uphold Singh’s counsel’s argument that the Congressman from Punjab needed the bungalow for Z category security as he was “under threat from extremist outfits” over his role in the aftermath of the Operation Bluestar in which Shikh Khalistani separatists were killed inside the Golden Tenple in Amritsar on the orders of the then Indira Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre.
In the national capital and its peripheries, the costs of living are shooting up with each passing day. Of the bouquet of expenses one incurs, rent forms the biggest chunk. At the same time, our elected representatives abuse their power to hold on to accommodation paid for by the common tax-paying citizen. The saddest bit is while the government talks of austerity and families cut back overheads to adjust for price rise of essential commodities, our MPs and their cronies have field day in the heart of Delhi while making pretences of serving the nation. The perks of being in power have overshadowed all intent to serve the nation.



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