Power elite used land sale to give themselves a new New Delhi

FP123-acre complex houses state ministers, judges, top officials

Delhi's power elite have a new address in New Moti Bagh, a gated complex complete with Lutyens-inspired bungalows, manicured lawns, smooth roads, multi-storey apartment blocks, a club house, a market area with ATMs, Mother Dairy and Safal outlets, even a play school.

But few know that this residential complex, spread over 123 acres and home to state ministers, judges, secretaries and joint secretaries, has been built from proceeds of the sale of three acres of government land to the Leela Palace hotel in Chanakyapuri in 2007.

The sale fetched Rs 610 crore for the Ministry of Urban Development. From this kitty, Rs 523 crore was spent on development of this residential complex, a new home for top bureaucrats.

The National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC), a Government of India enterprise responsible for the construction of the complex, says one acre of land still remains and it hopes to commercially exploit this to make more money.

The NBCC maintains that this "redevelopment" was necessary to tide over the shortage of housing for government employees. What it does not say is that this complex is meant only for top officials while the middle and lower-level employees continue to feel the brunt of the shortage of government accommodation in the Capital.

R K Aggarwal, General Manager (Engineer), NBCC, said: "Earlier this land had 72 Central Public Works Department (CPWD) flats, CPWD stores and towers of the Airports Authority of India. We clubbed the land together. To come up with a self-sustaining financial model, we sold land to Leela Hotel so that the government would not have to spend anything on the redevelopment project."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Urban Development said the sale of land was carried out after necessary approval from the Cabinet. "Land can be sold as per applicable rules. But the funds have to be utilised for the same project," the spokesperson said.

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