Renovation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence incurred a total cost of Rs 52.71 crore, according to a “factual report” submitted by the Delhi government’s Vigilance Directorate to the lieutenant governor, official sources said on Thursday.
The cost of Rs 52.71 crore included Rs 33.49 crore spent on the construction of the house and Rs 19.22 crore on a camp office for the chief minister, the report said, citing records of the Public Works Department (PWD).
It is “unfortunate” that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after failing in all its attempts to malign Kejriwal’s image over the last nine years, is now targeting the chief minister’s residence, the Aam aadmi Party (AAP) said in a statement.
“There is nothing in the report to say that any crime was committed. This is the first time that an official residence complex for the chief minister was created in Delhi, consisting of the chief minister’s residence, an office secretariat, an auditorium and staff quarters, ” it added.
The report said the then PWD minister had, in March 2020, proposed additional accommodation arrangements — a drawing room, two meeting rooms and a dining room with a capacity of 24 people — and the addition of an upper storey by remodeling the existing structure .
The PWD, however, proposed the demolition of the existing structure on the ground that it was an old one, built in 1942-43, the report said.
“It is submitted that the bungalow at 6, Flag Staff Road was constructed in 1942-43 and is a load-bearing construction. In view of the fact that it is a very old construction and has load-bearing walls, it is not recommended for remodeling the existing ground floor or for creating an additional floor,” the report said, citing a PWD note.
The PWD had recommended that additional construction may be carried out within the premises and the existing bungalows be separated by barricading. Once the construction is completed, the chief minister and his family may shift to the new bungalow and the existing bungalow can be demolished, the report said.
“It was, however, on the recommendation of PWD engineers that a new bungalow was constructed on the same premises since the existing structure, built in 1942-43, had outlived its life in 1997 itself. The PWD had argued that the old construction had ‘load-bearing walls’ and was not recommended for remodeling of the existing ground floor or for creating an additional floor,” it added.
The PWD, however, could not provide the file on demolition of structures adjoining 6, Flagstaff Road, the official residence of the chief minister.
Amid allegations of irregularities in renovating the chief minister’s official residence leveled by the BJP and highlighted by the media, LG VK Saxena directed Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in April for securing all the relevant files and submitting a factual report.
The report, signed by Special Secretary (Vigilance) YVVJ Rajasekhar, was submitted to the LG on May 12, a day after the Supreme Court gave executive control over services matters in Delhi to the AAP government.
According to the report, the PWD had initially estimated that the construction would incur a cost of Rs 15-20 crore. The first tender of Rs 8.61 crore was awarded in October 20, 2020 and it did not mention the construction of a new building.
Several new proposals for additions and alterations were subsequently made, which increased the scope of the work in terms of both the built-up area and the plinth area.
The additional cost was necessary because of superior specifications in all the components, including a modular kitchen, a pantry, a wardrobe and a laundry, the report said.
It also pointed out that the construction work was undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic against a 2020 order from the finance department that mandated expenditure of an emergency nature only.
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