House for former President Pratibha Patil expands from 2,906 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft

The 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 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.

Work on the bungalow started in December 2012 and the structure has since undergone a complete overhaul. Several new rooms have been added for Patil,her office and her staffers.

The house plan shows it has two bedrooms, a master bedroom, a living room, a lounge, a dining room,a dressing room,a library,a pooja room,a kitchen-cum-store room, a separate store room,a visitors lounge, an office for the ex-President,a porch,a covered courtyard,five toilets,an office for the personal assistant, five staff quarters, a security cabin, a guards room and a one-room-kitchen unit for the staffer.

A recreational ground will be developed on 5,670 sq ft comprising a lawn and other garden essentials. The total size of the plot is 56,239 sq ft and the CPWD tender said it estimated the cost of the entire renovation at Rs 1.03 crore. Officials refused to disclose the value of the final contract.

CPWD also issued a separate tender for horticultural at an estimated cost of Rs 6.66 lakh.

Under the agreement between the state government and MoUD,the bungalow will remain with the MoUD until either Patil or her spouse is alive. It will then be returned to the state government which has to pay MoUD the expenditure incurred on the renovation