Ministers doll up houses in impoverished Jharkhand


Ranchi : Economically backward Jharkhand may be struggling to fulfil the basic needs of those 54 percent of its population who live below the poverty line, but ministers are busy blowing up millions on renovating their official homes.

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Official estimates say Rs.150 million have been spent on remodelling the houses of the governor, chief minister, cabinet ministers, the state secretariat, circuit house, assembly and legislators' hostels, among others.

The state government has spent Rs.20 million on remodelling the governor's house. Another Rs.4 million will be spent on construction of the kitchen.

Chief minister Madhu Koda's residence, located on Kanke Road, has been given a facelift at a cost of Rs.60 million and now a watchtower and a helipad are under construction.

The house of building and construction minister Enos Ekka has been renovated at a cost of Rs.2 million and a new house is under construction at a cost of Rs.7.6 million. The government has spent Rs.2.5 million on renovating the houses of water and irrigation minister Kamlesh Singh.

Two circuit houses of the state were taken over by the ministers. The first, located near the old Ranchi Jail, was occupied by Bachha Singh when he became the urban development minister five years ago. The house has now been allotted to former chief minister Arjun Munda.

The second circuit house, located near Morabadi ground, was occupied by former chief minister Babulal Marandi. Another circuit house is under construction, at an approximate cost of Rs.400 million.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's state president P.N. Singh said: "The Madhu Koda government lacks the will to spend public money on development. Development funds are diverted for renovating the buildings. In many cases, the buildings are renovated without following the norms."

But the ministers justify the renovations.

"When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar there was an accommodation problem. The previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government should have built more houses for ministers and bureaucrats. Most houses are in bad shape and this is the reason why they are being renovated," said a minister.

Even as the ministers are busy splurging, in the last seven years one million families have been added to the list of those below poverty line in the state.