Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi live in unsafe houses
New Delhi: Five-hundred VIP addresses in the capital, including the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, have been declared dangerous by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
Despite the CPWD having spent over Rs7 crore on renovating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official residence on 7 Race Course Road, the structure is on the list of hazardous bungalows.
In the standing committee report on urban development, the CPWD has said that the bungalows in Delhi’s Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LZB) are vulnerable to an earthquake-like calamity.
“These bungalows were constructed between 1920 and 1930 to cater to the British and last for 30 years at the most. However, we have tried to maintain them for a 100 years now,” a senior CPWD engineer told DNA.
“When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was moving into 7 RCR, we had apprised him that the house was structurally unsafe,” the officer said. “The CPWD spent Rs7 crore in renovating the bungalow after he moved into his official residence.”
The report, which was tabled in Parliament, said: “A complete survey of LZB bungalows with reference to their structural safety vis-a-vis the latest IS code for earthquake-resistant structures has been undertaken. Most of the bungalows were found to be unsafe. The matter has been reported to the MoUD. It has been proposed to take up redevelopment of LZB bungalows in a phased manner.”
The CPWD has estimated a cost of Rs3,000 crore to renovate the 500 VIP addresses, including those of several cabinet ministers and the vice-president, which are unsafe.
“The money will be spent in a phased manner in 30 years,” the officer said. The amount, however, is a lot more than what would be needed to construct the structures afresh.
The CPWD has sent the estimate to the Planning Commission and is awaiting its approval. The LZB occupies 2200 hectares of land in the capital and each bungalow in the area is spread over 2-3 acres. The CPWD has also proposed that the size of the bungalows be reduced.
“With the space crunch in the city, we have asked for the area to be reduced and for the creation of double-storey houses instead. But those acquiring these houses have objected and therefore, the decision on the size of the bungalows has been put on hold,” the officer said.
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