Some days ago, former Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh refused to vacate the bungalow at 12, Tughlak Road, saying he wanted it converted into a memorial for his father, late Chaudhary Charan Singh. When the Union Ministry of Urban Development rejected his demand, there was lot of bad blood over the issue and controversy too.
When we analyse the facts, we find that the previous Congress-led governments, including UPA-I and UPA-II, have sowed seeds of trouble for any other government at the Centre. They have done so by converting government-bungalows in Lutyen’s zone in New Delhi into memorials by leasing them out to foundations and trusts.
It is evident that previous UPA government authenticated unlawful activities of encroachers and trespassers. The government-bungalows at 6 Krishna Menon Marg (New Delhi) and composite unit of government-bungalow numbers 12, 14 and 16 at Gurudwara Rakaqbganj Road (New Delhi) were forcibly converted into Jagjivan Ram and Kanshi Ram memorials respectively. These bungalows were later allocated, due to arm-twisting, to Babu Jagjivan Ram Foundation and Bahujan Prerna Trust, respectively.
Records of Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), if made public, will reveal that some citizens had made representations against these political encroachers. These citizens had even demanded action against those guilty of encroachments, trespass and illegal constructions in complete violation of norms set for Lutyen’s zone of New Delhi at these government-bungalows. Rather those involved in such crimes were rewarded by succumbing to their demands of converting these government-bungalows in memorials of their political mentors/parents by leasing these to concerned trusts and foundations.
Perhaps nowhere else in the world, such unlawful activities of politicians forcefully taking over of government-bungalows are allowed. The Union Cabinet should take a bold decision to get all government-bungalows vacated from foundations, trusts and other bodies apart from removing all memorials from government-bungalows.
Such a bold decision is likely to get massive public support. The MoUD should make a beginning by initiating action against encroachments, trespassing and illegal constructions. In a RTI response to an activist, the Union government had earlier confessed that its officers were not allowed to enter several such bungalows for checking illegal constructions.
If such steps are taken, Teen Murti Bhawan can be converted as permanent office-cum-residence of Vice President of India. Incidentally, huge amounts have been spent on 7, Race Course Road, bungalow for making it the official residence of the Prime Minister of India.
The government should also issue a white paper giving details regarding the number of visitors coming to these bungalows converted into memorials. That will perhaps make it clear to us that these bungalows are being used only by the inhabitants, and there are hardly any visitors to these memorials.
In the year 2000, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had decided to stop conversion of government bungalows into memorials. The decision was later endorsed by the Supreme Court. All bungalows converted into memorials after the Supreme Court verdict should be got vacated to meet the ends of justice.