Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Panchayati Raj Ministry runs out of 5-star hotel

There is nothing 'cattle class' about this. The Panchayati Raj Ministry, responsible for decentralisation and local governance in states, but more importantly, empowering the rural poor, has been spending crores every year as rent on space acquired at a 5-star hotel in south Delhi. The 5,500 sq ft space on the sixth floor of Samrat Hotel in Chanakyapuri was hired from the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on August 30, 2006, due to an 'acute space crunch'. Interestingly, the ministry is also functioning from a 4,406 sq ft office at Sardar Patel Bhawan and 1,800 sq ft of space at Krishi Bhawan in New Delhi. This information came to light in reply to an RTI application filed by a Delhi-based activist. The 5,500 sq ft space at Samrat Hotel originally came with the price tag of Rs 195 per sq ft as rent per month, for a period of two years commencing from September 1, 2006, to be extended further with an increase of 8 per cent after expiry of the tenure. After the period lapsed on August 30, 2008,
the present rate of rent became Rs 210.60 per sq ft, from September 1, 2008. The total adds up to more than Rs 5.22 crore spent as rent so far.

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