House for Pratibha Patil expands from 2,906 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft
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In April 2012, when she was three months away from the end of her term, then President Pratibha Patil gave up the palatial bungalow that was being built in Khadki, Pune, to serve as her post-retirement residence, after it got mired in controversy.
Subsequently, the Centre identified and allotted to her what was considered a rather modest bungalow named 'Raigad' near Chatuhshringi Hills on Pashan Road.
It has now come to light that the size of this bungalow, which is being "renovated and refurbished" by the Central Public Works Department, has doubled in size after a special exception was made to sidestep rules that limit the area of a former President's house.
In July 2012, when the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) took possession of the bungalow — which was the official residence of the director of police wireless — it had a built-up area of 2,906 sq ft. During renovation, this has gone up to over 6,000 sq ft.
The President's Pensions Rules, 1962, say that if a former President is provided accommodation on a leased property, the living area should not exceed 2,000 sq ft.
The MoUD has taken the bungalow on lease from the Maharashtra government on an annual rent of Re 1. Sources said that while MoUD was willing to pay rent at market rates, the state government decided to lease it "almost free of cost".
MoUD secretary Sudhir Krishna said an exception to the living area rule was made by the Union home ministry for Patil, who is expected to move in around mid-May.
"The rules were made by the home ministry and they have made a relaxation in this case. They have approved the construction plan of the bungalow. It's their mandate. Our job is to construct what we have been asked to construct. The rule is there but a relaxation can also be made by the concerned ministry," Krishna told The Indian Express.
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