Pune: President Pratibha Patil decided to give up the proposed post-retirement bungalow being constructed in Pune after allegations of grabbing defence land. The activists who highlighted the violations have claimed victory but the President said she was pained at such baseless allegations.
Retired defence officers in Pune congratulated each other and were triumphant that their protest against the allotment of the plot of defence land in the Khadki area to President Pratibha Patil for her retirement home, forced the President to return the land.
Commander (Retd) Ravindra Pathak of Justice for Jawans said, "We are extremely happy. I would've been happier if with grace she would've accepted her mistake."
Journalist Vinita Deshmukh thanked the media and social media and said, "She would not have been able to live in peace here, that's why she came under immense public pressure and returned it."
Activists had objected to the area of the plot, a massive 2,61,000 sq ft, when several jawans in the city live in cramped quarters due to a shortage of accommodation. They now say the land must be used for housing defence officers.
"Now that it has come back, we want that land to be used for constructing of accommodation for jawans and officers who have been waiting for accommodation for years or for our jawans who are living in tin sheds," Commander (Retd)Pathak said.
Activists say this should also serve as a precedent for the way defence land is used in other states.
For activists in Pune, this is a partial victory. The big question now is how will the plot of land be used - will it be used for housing for jawans as they've been asking for? Also what about the crores already spent in construction.