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Friday, June 13, 2014

Modi rules .... clearing Lutyens bungalows and making Govt employees come on time

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869 – 1944), was a British architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses.  He had a great role in section of the metropolis of Delhi, in recognition of which Delhi is also known as "Lutyens' Delhi". In collaboration with Sir Herbert Baker, he was also the main architect of several monuments in New Delhi such as the India Gate; he also designed Viceroy's House, which is now known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan.  This also includes the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ). The poll debacle  reducing Congress to a Regional party has brought in its wake, bigger problems for almost all former UPA ministers, as they have to vacate their huge bungalows in Lutyens' Delhi soon. Sources said a list of bungalows falling under higher category has been prepared to ensure that the present occupants shift out for the new ministers to move in. Besides ministers, the  new government has a huge task of providing permanent accommodation to newly elected MPs in the Lok Sabha. For new MPs, Lok Sabha secretariat has asked directorate of estate in urban development ministry to make accommodation arrangement for 300 MPs. The department has told three ITDC hotels to keep about 150 rooms while state guest houses have confirmed to provide rooms to about 210 MPs.

Recently, an RTI reply had revealed how 22 former ministers including A Raja, Mukul Roy, SM Krishna, Pawan Kumar Bansal and CP Joshi are overstaying in bungalows allotted to them under GPRA. Sources said, ideally once a minister demits office should vacate the house and get new accommodation under either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha pool. "Unfortunately, this rule is hardly followed as the allotments get regularized no matter whoever has come to power," an urban development ministry official said. On the top of that there are several cases of out-of-turn allotment or retention of bungalows for politicians and former bureaucrats. Some of the recent cases of such use of discretionary power relate to Murli Deora and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad. Sources said while Deora should have applied for a house under Rajya Sabha pool since he is a member of the Upper House he was allotted 2, Motilal Nehru Place only few days back. Lalu Prasad was allowed keep 24, Tughlak Road bungalow till October.  "Only to retain a government bungalow politicians and bureaucrats often show some personal, health or security reasons. The practice should end. But the call has to be taken by the new Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (CCA) that is likely to be formed under the NDA government," said an official.

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu appealed to all outgoing ministers to vacate their residences as soon as possible to enable new ministers to settle in. While some ministers vacate their residences swiftly others prefer to drag on. In a blow to the power structures that dominate Lutyens Delhi, the Modi-led Government has now served notices to all former MPs to vacate the bungalows allotted them by the erstwhile UPA Government. The NDA Government has made it clear that it will not indulge in politics of appeasement and allot bungalows in Lutyens zone only to Cabinet Ministers and heads of Constitutional bodies, not MPs. Ending the house-hunting phenomenon prevalent in the Congress era, the ModiGovernment has decided that only Union Council of Ministers and heads of Constitutional bodies, not MPs, will be entitled to bungalows in Lutyens Bungalow Zone, spread over a 2,800-hectare area which stretches up to Lodhi Road in the south. This decision once again reflects the get-down-to-business attitude of PM Modi who is not willing to do any political favours. Modi has set the record straight and made it abundantly clear that there rules and regulations that even he cannot break.

Urban development and housing minister Venkaiah Naidu has directed all officials and ministry staff to be in their seats by 9am. The direction came after the minister paid an unannounced visit to some of the offices in Nirman Bhawan and found them empty. "He noticed that rooms of several officers and reporting staff were empty as they were still to reach office. He also took note of electrical and other wires dangling along corridors and unused and waste materials dumped in the open. He found the floors being cleaned as he went around for about half an hour. The minister was not happy with the upkeep of canteens," an official release said.

Though as per rule all government employees must report to work by 9am, this norm is largely violated. Sources said that since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the standard by reaching office early, now almost every department has issued a circular for strict adherence of punctuality. "Earlier only stricter secretaries used to take this seriously. Now it has become a routine for joint secretary rank officers to check who are coming late," said a JS level officer.

Ever since he took oath, Modi has taken both unique as well as tough stands. Sending water to arid regions like Rajasthan through trains or reaching out to the bureaucrats to directly approach him whenever they feel like, are mere examples of the PM’s unique style of governance ~ and one prays that all this continues … Hamara Bharat Mahan hai.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
12th June 2014.

Inputs taken from : Firstpost; Indian Express; Times of India and The Hindu

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