BELAGAVI: Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, bedecked with well-manicured gardens, is a sight many sigh at. But the maintenance of the gardens comes at a cost. A piece of information obtained under Right To Information has revealed that in the last three years, Rs 12.70 crore has been spent only on the maintenance of the gardens. President’s secretariat, in response to a letter submitted under RTI Act by Bheemappa Gadad, a noted RTI activist of Belagavi, furnished information (dated May 22, 2018) on the maintenance of the gardens and expenses incurred on it for the past three years.
Besides Rs 12.70 crore spent on maintenance of the gardens, another Rs 1.46 crore was spent on garden equipment and gear. It was also revealed that a salary of Rs 72 lakh was paid to gardeners at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in February 2018 alone. If the salary figure is extrapolated, it means the government is spending approximately Rs 8 crore annually merely on salaries of gardeners of the Bhavan.
“The Rashtrapati Bhavan did not provide detailed information on salaries which it paid to the gardeners over the last three years. However, partial information on this point has been provided by the authorities. Only, the information about salaries paid for February 2018 to the gardeners and other employees maintaining the garden has been furnished by the Bhavan,’’ said Gadad.
The official documents on the gardens’ expenditure provided by Rashtrapati Bhavan shows Rs 3.73 crore was spent on maintenance and repair of garden during 2015-16 and`50.09 lakh on machinery and equipment in the same year. In 2016-17, Rs 4.56 crore was spent on the maintenance and repair of the garden and Rs 96.15 lakh on machinery and equipment used.
Another Rs 4.40 crore was spent on maintenance and repair of the garden during 2017-18. The sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan’s gardens stretch across an area of 139 acres as per the information provided by the President’s secretariat. The maintenance of Karnataka’s Brindavan Garndens with an area of 72 acres - almost half the size of the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens - costs Rs 7 crore per year.