The union government has spent more than Rs 20 crore in the last five years on the maintenance of VIP samadhis in the national capital including Shanti Van and Shakti Sthal, and the samadhis of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi respectively.
The civil wing of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) gave this information in response to an RTI application filed by Dev Ashish Bhattacharya. The figure will escalate when adding the amount spent by the electrical and horticulture wing of the CPWD, which is information that the applicant is yet to receive. The figure Rs 20 crore does not include the amount spent on Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi as it is maintained by Gandhi Smriti.
The applicant was told that CPWD does not keep a break- up pf expenses incurred on different memorials.
However, he was provided with details of area occupied by VIP samadhis, which showed that eight VIP memorials occupy more than 245 acres of prime land in Delhi.
While Shanti Van occupies largest area of land (52.6 acres) among these memorials, the samadhis of Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi are spread across 45 acres and 40 acres respectively. Vir Bhumi (Rajiv Gandhi) has 15 acres of land. Ekta Sthal (Giani Zail Singh) is on 22.56 acres and Vijay Ghat (Lal Bahadur and Lalita Shastri) occupies 40 Acres.
Details of earmarked areas for the memorials of former Presidents Shankar Dayal Sharma, KR Narayan and Smriti Sthal, memorial of late Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and IK Gujral, were not given to Bhattacharya, who has now filed a fresh RTI application with the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking the criteria of allotment of land for VIP samadhis.
“I have learnt that the central government is in the process of freezing the earmarked areas of some of these memorials. In other words, in the time to come, no leader will be accommodated in these selected samadhis unlike Smriti Sthal which is the common memorial of late Chandra Shekhar and IK Gujral,” said the applicant, whose query on this subject is with the Union Ministry of Urban Development.