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ON THE LOOKOUTFOR NEWHOMES.

Govt needs 40 -45 Lutyens' bungalows to house ministers

FACED WITH a deadline to accommodate new ministers in Narendra Modi's government, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu is busy juggling the ' General Pool Accommodation' to allot houses according to his Cabinet colleagues' choice and entitlement in posh Lutyens' Bungalow Zone ( LBZ). Going by the buzz in the UD ministry, "it will take a couple of days more to finish the new accommodation list, following which the ministry will send the same to new ministers and will wait for feedback". But before that, the ministry must finish the task of getting back bungalows from ministers in the UPA government.

The UD ministry is positive on that count, says a senior ministry official, adding that "the new Modi Cabinet is small and we require 40- 45 bungalows to accommodate the new ministers. We have already sent notices to former ministers and senior leaders occupying the Type VIII and VII accommodation in LBZ... there are some seeking extension of deadline, which is June 26, while others have started to pack things." Already, former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde has moved out and the buzz is A. K. Antony might move out soon. Former Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is already looking for a private bungalow in LBZ. T HERE are two criteria the UD ministry is working on for allotment of official bungalows.

One is allotting accommodation to first- time ministers and another is change in accommodation of MPs and senior leaders like Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and HRD Minister Smriti Irani, among others. Most of the latter are Cabinet ministers in the Modi government and they have hinted at wanting a change in their existing accommodation. They may be accommodated as the UD ministry's mandate calls for allotting all ministers a new accommodation as per the ' General Pool Accommodation' of Type VIII and Type VII bungalows.

Though the UD ministry holds the mandate to allot ministerial bungalows, for those already having an accommodation in LBZ it will be their call to accept or decline the offer.

For example, Union home Minister Rajnath Singh lives in a Type VI bungalow on 38, Ashoka Road, allotted by the Lok Sabha Secretariat pool. Two Type VI bungalows have been joined to accommodate Singh's functioning as the BJP chief and Lok Sabha MP. He has been living in the bungalow for over 10 years now. "While we will definitely come out with a suitable accom- modation to house our new Home Minister, the final call will be his," says a senior UD minister adding, "there is also a buzz that Union minister Arun Jaitley has hinted for change, though the request may be directly with the UD minister. Given his Cabinet status and significance attached to his portfolio, he will need a bigger bungalow in main LBZ. The ministry is looking into that too." The case of HRD minister Smriti Irani is also making buzz in the ministry given her new status of a Cabinet minister. She is currently staying at Lodhi Estate in a bungalow that was earlier with UPA MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla.

Though Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ananth Kumar has not made any request, his Cabinet rank entitles him to a new suitable bungalow. He currently stays at Tughlak Crescent where the current accommodation is from LS pool and is not for a senior six- time MP and Cabinet rank minister like him, says a senior UD minister.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 18, 2014
Words:596
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