New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil decided to give up her proposed post-retirement accommodation in Pune on Friday. This came after allegations that the President's bungalow was being built on defence land in violation of norms. The President's bungalow was being built on 2.6 lakh sq ft in Pune but the President is eligible for only 4,500 sq feet on retirement.
Presidential Spokesperson Archana Dutta said, "The President was very much pained at fabricated observation in the media that this land was being transferred to her. She has decided to forego her post retirement home in Pune. The President has not decided where she will go for her post retirement home."
"She chose not to react as she held herself answerable to the Constitution of the country and her conscience," Dutta added.
According to Presidential spokesperson Archana Dutta, the land will continue to remain with the Government of India.
A release from the Presidenital Palace said, "The President chose not to react as she has always held herself answerable to the Constitution and her conscience. If as Governor she had pursued the matters of war widows with such passion and concern, would she ever think of dislocating war widows or occupy a property allegedly meant for any such purpose as her post retirement home?"
RTI activists hailed the media and other supporters for their cooperation which they claimed prompted President Pratibha Patil to forego accommodation allotted to her after her retirement.
"I would like to congratulate the fourth pillar of democracy, that is the media. It is the media which gave support to the great cause of ours. We have been fighting it out for the last one year," said Lt Col (retd) Suresh Patil, who first released details of the government's plan to give land to the President.
Pratibha Patil was caught in a controversy over defence land allotted to her in Pune. An RTI application filed by former defence officers had shown that her proposed post-retirement bungalow was being built on defence land far in excess of what is sanctioned under the rules.
Activists argued that the controversial piece of land in Khadki, Pune where the President's post-retirement bungalow is being built, could have gone to jawans, who now live in slum like conditions.
The President's office had, however, denied that any rules were flouted.
Even as the massive 2,61,000 sq ft plot of defence land in Pune had been allotted to President Pratibha Patil, an RTI query had also revealed that the President is eligible for a government bungalow comparable to a residence allotted to a Union Minister. And, if it is not available, the government can rent accommodation that has an area of not more than 2,000 sq ft.
Former defence personnel also alleged that Patil was constructing on the land, which was not permissible by the rules.
However, President Patil's son Rajendra Shekhawat had said that there was no case of land grabbing. "Whatever she is given is as per what is entitled for the President, nothing is going to be behind that. I don't think she's encroaching on anyone else. she being the supreme commander of the defense forces certainly knows her duties and she's not going to encroach on anyone's land," he told CNN-IBN.