In Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone, only ones still squatting: BJP & Congress | India News

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THE BJP and the Congress are the only “residents” overstaying in bungalows that were allotted to them in the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ) and were cancelled when they were given land to build their offices outside the LBZ, according to records obtained by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act.

Answering a question on those overstaying in government bungalows, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister of State Kaushal Kishore had informed the Rajya Sabha on April 3 that seven had been overstaying.

Though Rajya Sabha CPM MP John Brittas had asked for the details, the reply did not include the names and addresses.

However, the draft reply prepared by the Directorate of Estates (DoE) – under the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry — based on its property management portal, eSampada, included the names and addresses.

In Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone, only ones still squatting: BJP & Cong Congress has retained 24, Akbar Road. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

The draft reply, accessed under RTI, showed that the BJP is overstaying at 11, Ashoka Road, a Type-VIII bungalow allotted to it in 1985 even after its cancellation on August 20, 2017; and at 14, Pandit Pant Marg, a Type-VII bungalow allotted in 1999 that continues to function as the Delhi BJP office, despite its cancellation on December 5, 2017.

Similarly, the Congress has retained 24, Akbar Road, where the All-India Congress Committee office is located, and 5, Raisina Road, the Youth Congress headquarters, despite cancellation of allotment on June 26, 2013.

Also cancelled the same day was 26, Akbar Road. This was the office of the Congress Seva Dal until last year when the DoE had issued a notice and had the property vacated. In the records, however, it remains allotted to the Congress.

A visit to the bungalow revealed broken down buildings, an over-run garden and premises used by Central Public Works Department as a store for materials.

Under a July 13, 2006 policy of the Land and Development Office of the Ministry, national parties are eligible for allotment of land to build their own offices in Delhi.

If these parties are in possession of government bungalows as office space, they would have three years from the date of allotment of land to vacate the bungalows. Since land was allotted to the Congress in 2007 and to the BJP in 2014, as per another RTI reply from the L&DO, the allotment of bungalows was cancelled.

The Congress’s new office on the land allotted to it on Kotla Road is yet to be completed, while the BJP’s headquarters on the land given to it on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg became operational in 2018. As of this week, only the BJP IT Cell works out of its former national office at 11, Ashoka Road, where all markings of the party — posters, hoardings, and nameplate — which used to greet visitors, have been taken down.

While others overstaying in their government bungalows, including the family of late Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and former Union Ministers PC Sarangi and Rattan Lal Kataria, were asked to vacate by the DoE in 2022, Ministry officials said the BJP and the Congress have not been asked to leave.

The parties are facing mounting dues in the form of penal rent for the period of overstaying, an official said.

The BJP spokesperson was not available for comment. Congress treasurer and in-charge of administration for the party Pawan Kumar Bansal said 26, Akbar Road had been vacated by the party “quite some time back”. He added: “We have not received any cancellation notice about the other two premises, we have applied for reduction in rentals.”

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The other two properties listed as “unauthorised occupants” in the DoE’s records were outside the LBZ: Foreign Correspondents Club at AB-19, Mathura Road, and former Ladakh Lieutenant-Governor Radha Krishna Mathur at AB-3, Purana Quila Road.

FCC president S. Venkat Narayan declined to comment. The club’s allotment of a Type-VII bungalow was cancelled on January 7, 2021.

Mathur, who was Ladakh LG till February this year, said: “This is not my current address and on the date on which the Parliament reply was given, it was not my address”. According to Ministry sources, the bungalow remains with the Ladakh administration for use by the incumbent L-G, Brig. B.D. Mishra, who took over from Mathur in February.

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