New Delhi: In a tough message to all former members of Parliament and bureaucrats, the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation has decided to ask non-government occupants of official bunglows to pay rentals for their houses as per the market rate.
The red beacon light, hooter, security cordon and the official bungalow are the ultimate status symbol.
So it is no wonder that retired bureaucrats, former MPs and former ministers can't let go. But now the Cabinet Committee of Accommodation has begun sending notices to those who continue to live in government quarters to either get out, or pay market rates.
Some occupants like MS Bitta who lost his legs in a terror attack say it is not status but security that compels them to hold on to their official residences.
"I have a flat in Dwarka. I can move there but what if a car bomb is used to attack me? Why endanger the lives of all those who will share the flats? Has the committee thought about this?" asks Bitta.
Other than Bitta, Punjab's retired director general of police KPS Gill and 13 others would be affected by the Cabinet decision. The Government insists security would continue to be provided even after current occupants move out, but that it cannot any longer suffer losses to the exchequer.
"The bunglows should get a rent of a few lakhs per square yard. So upto Rs 10-12 lakh should be just the rental," says a real estate professional Shveta Jain.
Sources say that not just politicians and bureaucrats but even experts and journalists who have occupied official bunglows citing security concerns. For a Government which is always short of houses to accommodate its ministers and serving bureaucrats, this is a luxury it can ill afford.