The UPA government has ensured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh retires in comfort. As a parting gift to Singh, who has expressed his desire to move into his new house before election results are declared on May 16, the Urban Development Ministry has changed an earlier order, paving the way for free water and electricity for his retirement house at Motilal Nehru Marg.
The order will not only benefit Singh but other former PMs, presidents and vice-presidents who are occupying government bungalows in New Delhi, sources said. Singh has also requested his office to keep everything in the house “frugal”. Singh, who will be entitled to privileges equivalent to the Leader of Opposition, will be able to keep 14 people as his personal staff and get Rs 6,000 per month as sundry expenditure. He will also have to pay a minimal rent fee of Rs 1,200 per month, said an official.
While there is an exemption limit set for sitting MPs when it comes to electricity and power bills, no such rule existed for former PMs.
Singh, who wants to shift to the bungalow sprawling over 2.5 acres a day before the results are announced, has also requested his office not to exceed the Rs 2.5 lakh expenditure limit for furniture, ACs, refrigerator and other
“The previous occupant of the house, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, who is presently the governor of Kerala, had 26 ACs fitted in the bungalow. When she left, all ACs were taken away. The PM has requested that not more than four-five ACs be fitted in the Type-VIII bungalow,” said a senior official.
A request had been made to the Central Public Works Department, the agency responsible for upkeep and maintenance of government bungalows, to complete renovation work by April 30 but they missed the deadline. “When Dikshit occupied the house, the entire flooring was done in wood. The PM’s family did not want that and expressed a desire to remove the wooden coating. We removed it but the floor below is damaged. We are afraid we will have to go back to wooden flooring, that’s why the renovation took time,” said the official.