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Friday, January 24, 2020

Power elite used land sale to give themselves a new New Delhi

3 acres sold to hotel for Rs 610 crore; Rs 523 crore used on New Moti Bagh.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | New Delhi | Published: May 13, 2013 4:32:06 am

Delhi’s power elite have a new address in New Moti Bagh,a gated complex complete with Lutyens-inspired bungalows,manicured lawns,smooth roads,multi-storey apartment blocks,a club house,a market area with ATMs,Mother Dairy and Safal outlets,even a play school.

But few know that this residential complex,spread over 123 acres and home to state ministers,judges,secretaries and joint secretaries,has been built from proceeds of the sale of three acres of government land to the Leela Palace hotel in Chanakyapuri in 2007.

The sale fetched Rs 610 crore for the Ministry of Urban Development. From this kitty,Rs 523 crore was spent on development of this residential complex,a new home for top bureaucrats.

The National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC),a Government of India enterprise responsible for the construction of the complex,says one acre of land still remains and it hopes to commercially exploit this to make more money.

The NBCC maintains that this “redevelopment” was necessary to tide over the shortage of housing for government employees. What it does not say is that this complex is meant only for top officials while the middle and lower-level employees continue to feel the brunt of the shortage of government accommodation in the Capital.

R K Aggarwal,General Manager (Engineer),NBCC,said: “Earlier this land had 72 Central Public Works Department (CPWD) flats,CPWD stores and towers of the Airports Authority of India. We clubbed the land together. To come up with a self-sustaining financial model,we sold land to Leela Hotel so that the government would not have to spend anything on the redevelopment project.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Urban Development said the sale of land was carried out after necessary approval from the Cabinet. “Land can be sold as per applicable rules. But the funds have to be utilised for the same project,” the spokesperson said.

But CPWD officials,who did not wish to be named,said the original “redevelopment” proposal sent to the Cabinet mentioned sale of 15 acres. When it was sent for vetting to the CPWD,the department raised objections. “The CPWD raised objections on the sale of 15 acres of government land and undervaluation. The objections were studied and another proposal was sent for Cabinet approval. Under this,only four acres was to be sold and the value of the land was looked into again,” an official said.

The complex has been built over 123 acres — around 110 acres house 492 Type VI,VII,VIII accommodations. Around 500 flats for the economically weaker sections were supposed to be part of the project. The NBCC claims that the servant quarters attached to all accommodations and one-room flats constructed for other domestic helps and drivers of the officials make up for the EWS housing they are supposed to provide.

“A separate housing complex for the EWS category has been constructed outside the New Moti Bagh residential complex for domestic helps/drivers of government employees. These one-bedroom flats are given out only to domestic helps/drivers of the government employees,” Aggarwal said.

Work on the project started in 2007 and was completed in 2012. A special maintenance cell works round the clock within the complex to address complaints regarding water shortage,power cuts and other problems.

The one-acre of land that is still unused will be sold for further commercial use. Anoop Kumar Mittal,Director (Projects),NBCC,said: “There are 10 towers of 8-10 storeys each. These have 376 flats that were allotted from 2010 onward. These Type VI flats have a master bedroom,two other bedrooms,study,dining/drawing rooms,modular kitchen and a servant quarter.”

“There are 102 Type VII duplex bungalows. Each has an office,drawing/dining rooms,family lounge,two bedrooms on the ground floor and two on the first floor,a puja room and a study besides servant rooms. The biggest bungalows are the 18 Type VIII which have almost the same facilities but more bedrooms and servant rooms,’’ Mittal said.

There is so much space to spare that one underground parking area has been closed because there is no use for it — most cars are parked at the stilt level.

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