Urban development dept to take over Indira Bhavan

By Suman Chakraborti, TNN | Dec 26, 2011

KOLKATA: Former chief minister of Bengal Jyoti Basu had spent the last 20 years of his life at this sprawling bungalow at Salt Lake. Indira Bhavan will now be handed over to the state urban development department. All Basu memorabilia, including a wax statue of the veteran politician, will be brought to CPM's Alimuddin Street headquarters. The process of handing over the property will be completed by December 31.

Officials of the urban development department are working on the handover process. "The party top brass from Alimuddin Street sent a letter to the department, informing that they wanted to hand over Indira Bhavan to the state urban development and to take over Jyoti Basu's belongings that were still kept at Indira Bhavan to their Alimuddin Street headquarters. The handover process will be completed by December 31," said a source from the urban development department.

Earlier, after Basu's death, there was a proposal to turn Indira Bhavan into a museum in memory of Basu. The proposal was discussed by the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government but later the plan was scrapped.

Once the urban development department takes over Indira Bhavan, the Mamata Banerjee government can decide on how to best utilize the sprawling building. "First and foremost the building will be repaired and renovated as it is in poor condition . Then, it would be decided as to how it could be used. The building was originally designated as a guest house," said an urban development official.

Opposition leader Surya Kanta Mishra said that some of Basu's belongings have already been shifted from Indira Bhavan.

Indira Bhavan was built in 1972 primarily to serve as a guest house for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during her visits to the city. Later, the previous government decided to allot Indira Bhavan for Basu to live and he had moved into the bungalow in August 1989. Nine employees were posted at Indira Bhavan to cater to Basu's daily needs, apart from Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans to oversee his security. The state government spent over Rs 20 lakh per year on salaries of these nine employees. The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government also used to allocate more than Rs 10 lakh a year for the building's maintenance.

However, over the last few years, many parts of the building have developed cracks.

After Basu stepped down as chief minister in November 2000 on health grounds, the then North 24-Parganas district administration had reportedly fixed a monthly rent of nearly a lakh. But the rent was then negotiated and it was finally decided that Alimuddin has to pay about Rs 8,880 per month to the state urban development department. Since 2000 onwards, Alimuddin Street has been paying a rent of about Rs 8,880 every month for Indira Bhavan to the state urban development department.

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