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Squatter MPs leave no room for colleagues

New Delhi, Aug. 26: The capital has a new class of squatters ' in posh localities. And the government doesn’t know how to evict them.

MPs who refuse to vacate additional flats they have taken, apart from their official residences, have created a shortage of accommodation for fellow parliamentarians.

Besides bungalows in Delhi’s VIP area ' Lutyens Bungalow Zone ' there are around 400 to 500 flats for MPs on South Avenue and North Avenue. Many MPs are using these flats, acquired from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha pools, ostensibly to put up “guests” from their constituencies. But no one really checks up on who is actually occupying them.

The Union urban development ministry has come out with a list of leaders and their additional flats. It includes Sharad Yadav (41 North Avenue), Janeshwar Mishra (47 North Avenue), Balbir Punj (16 North Avenue), Dinesh Trivedi (76 South Avenue) and Subhas Yadav (12B Ferozeshah Road). The list mentions young, first-time MPs like Milind Deora as well as senior leaders like Shibu Soren.

The Congress deputy chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, V. Narayanswamy, is using a flat at 138 South Avenue although he has an official residence at C-1/19 Humayun Road. The same goes for Eduardo Faleiro, T.T.V. Dinakaran and Vidyasagar Nishad, among others.

Former MPs, too, are clinging on to accommodation they are no longer entitled to. The list includes Sunil Shastri, Sanghapriya Gautam, D.P. Yadav, Suresh Keswani, Margaret Alva, Nawal Kishore Rai and Begum Noor Bano.

A few years ago, during his tenure as Union urban development minister, Jagmohan had tried to evict leaders occupying government bungalows and flats illegally, but had met with limited success.

The misuse of MPs’ residences came under the spotlight in December, when the flats of four parliamentarians in South Avenue were robbed. The thieves had broken into the high-security flats, causing a sensation.

Delhi police commissioner K.K. Paul had then told Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee that many MPs had built illegal structures on the premises of their bungalows or flats, and were “sub-letting” them. Some MPs with ground-floor flats had added rooms on the lawn while others had partitioned rooms to make space for tenants.

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