NEW DELHI: Weird but true. The State-run Janpath Hotel in central Delhi is the new official address of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which operates under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The authority, responsible for 200 zoos and their animals, has rented five rooms on the first floor of the hotel in the heart of the capital at a whopping Rs 15 lakh per month to accommodate its 18 employees who were shunted out of Bikaner House when the NDA government agreed to hand it over to the Rajasthan government.
The CZA’s request for space in the newly-inaugurated Rs 209 crore environment ministry office, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, at Jor Bagh in South Delhi was turned down on grounds that there is no space available to accommodate it. Janpath Hotel is home to two other Central government offices — Ministry of Women and Child Development and Cabinet Secretariat.
But a plush hotel room comes with its own set of problems. The CZA officials are crammed for space, with six personnel working out of one room, with hardly any space to keep files and documents. Some files have been dumped in the passage outside the rooms while others lie scattered on sofas inside.
Said a disgruntled CZA official, “We were told that the new building will accommodate all offices in one wing but after inauguration we have been left to find a place on our own and have to bear the cost of rented space from the meagre annual budgets. Earlier, some were promised that they would get space in Paryavaran Bhawan, the office vacated by the ministry, but now that has also been ruled out.”
“This means that Rs 209 crore spent on Indira Paryavaran Bhawan is sheer waste of money when it cannot accommodate its other offices. Why didn’t the ministry keep in mind the number of people and offices it has to accommodate before constructing the building?” asked a senior ministry official.
The foundation of the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan — the country’s first zero energy building — was laid in 2009 by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and was inaugurated in February 2014 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.