By Somrita Ghosh
New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) 10 Rajaji Road, the new abode of outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee, is all ready to welcome its newest resident.
The eight-room, two-storey villa — quite a change from the 340-room Rashtrapati Bhavan — is no stranger to former Presidents, having previously hosted A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The rooms of the villa — spread over an expansive 11,776 sq feet — have been spruced up and the walls repainted. The existing furniture has also been replaced and the entrance and exit gates await the nameplates of the new resident.
“It is not overcrowded with furniture. We are keeping it simple. Also, a large space has been created which is being turned into a library,” a senior official from the Urban Development Ministry told IANS.
With Ram Nath Kovind elected as the 14th President of India, it is time for Pranab Mukherjee to bid adieu to Rashtrapati Bhavan and move to the new address as he goes into retirement.
Mukherjee will be moving out of the sprawling presidential palace atop Raisina Hill to his new home on July 25 after the incoming President is ceremonially welcomed to Rashtrapati Bhavan, an official told IANS. Kovind will then escort Mukherjee to his new home.
Mukherjee, 81, who was elected President in 2012, is a voracious reader and will be carrying all his personal books to his new address, which will be comparable to a residence allotted to a Union minister.
“He is also planning to pen a book based on his five years as the President although nothing is final yet,” another official said.
As a former President, Mukherjee’s pension will be Rs 75,000 per month (50 per cent of that while in office). There are some other perks, including two telephones, one mobile phone and a car for free. The President Emoluments Act also allows the former President to access secretarial staff, and office expenses of up to Rs 60,000.
This will be apart from free medical attendance and treatment as well as travel anywhere in India, accompanied by one person, in the highest class in any mode of travel.
According to the President Emoluments Act 1951, a retired president is entitled to facilities like rent-free Type VIII accommodation anywhere in India, free water and electricity, apart from the landline, mobile phones and medical amenities.
Mukherjee will have at his disposal five personal staffers, including a private secretary, a personal assistant and two peons. Responsibility for his security will be handed over to the Delhi Police.
The 10 Rajaji Marg bungalow was allotted to Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma in 2015 after Kalam’s death. Sharma has been allotted another bungalow on the adjacent Akbar Road.
(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])
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