While austerity is the current fad, the United Progressive Alliance government has splurged over Rs 93 crore in the last five years on renovation and maintenance of the sprawling bungalows of ministers and Members of Parliament, in the posh Lutyen's zone.
In reply to a Right To Information query filed by a resident of Mumbai, Chetan Kothari, it was revealed by the government that in the last five years, an expenditure of Rs 93.53 crore has been incurred towards the upkeep of these bungalows.
"An amount of Rs 93.50 crore has been spent towards upgradation, ordinary repair and superior repair of these bungalows by the office of the CPWD, which is responsible for the upkeep of these bungalows," said the reply by J P Rath, deputy director of the Department of Estates under the Urban Development Ministry.
"MPs are provided with free accommodation throughout the term of office to a member. However, a normal licence fee of Rs 105 is charged on a bungalow," it said.
"Visit these bungalows and you will see construction work every now and then. They have engineered wood flooring, wall paneling and veneering, gypsum board and false ceiling, glazed shutters for doors, windows and glazed partitions, polished porcelain tiles in toilet and wall. All expensive ones," Kothari said.
Some of the occupants of these bungalows include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Talkatora Road, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in Janpath, Defence Minister A K Antony in K M Marg, Home Minister P Chidambaram in Safdarjung Road and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee in B K S Marg.
A total of 77 bungalows have been allotted to the various ministers. According to the reply, nearly Rs 11 crore was spent towards the upkeep of these bungalows in 2004-2005, Rs nine crore the next year followed by an expenditure of Rs 20 crore in 2006-2007 followed by Rs 33 crore in 2007-2008.
"They have spent Rs 21 crore alone till June 2009 for the maintenance of these bungalows," Kothari said.