New Delhi, Oct. 17: Twelve years of negotiations for a spacious address with a posh pincode in the national capital have finally borne fruit as Jharkhand has been allotted an acre in upscale Connaught Place for a state bhavan by the Union ministry of urban development.
Though a ministry panel has approved the plot — a stone’s throw from Lady Hardinge Medical College — a Cabinet nod will seal the deal.
Jharkhand resident commissioner in New Delhi Vimal Keerti Singh said they were expecting Cabinet approval any day. “According to central government rules, land owned by the ministry can’t be allotted to anyone other than the Centre or Union government-owned PSUs without Cabinet seal,” he explained.
Sources said Cabinet approval was only a formality and Jharkhand government would very soon receive the allocation letter.
“As soon as we get the letter, we will hire an architect. A detailed project report will be prepared, costs estimated and construction started. We should have the building in 18 months from now,” Singh added.
An 18-month wait seems trifling when pitted against 12 years, though in all fairness Jharkhand does have its own state government guesthouse in New Delhi’s Vasant Vihar.
But though the government website describes it as “centrally air-conditioned and wi-fi enabled”, the three-storey Kusumpur Pahari address with 20 rooms has proved inadequate for the large numbers of visiting dignitaries and legislators from the state.
Officials at the existing Jharkhand Bhavan cribbed that space shortage meant scouting for rooms at guesthouses of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Meghalaya or others.
“Sometimes, we have to tie up with star hotels in the capital to put up visiting dignitaries. But it can hardly be an ideal arrangement in terms of resources and logistics. It puts unnecessary burden on the state exchequer. A large state guesthouse is the need of the hour,” said the resident commissioner.
The proposed Connaught Place guesthouse may also end a longstanding contentious issue between Jharkhand and Bihar.
When Jharkhand separated from Bihar, it wanted one of the two Bihar guesthouses in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri — Bihar Bhavan or Bihar Niwas.
Though the new state cited Bihar Reorganisation Act and said it deserved one of the two spacious buildings, it was met with stiff resistance from then chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. More sparks flew when other parent states Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh handed over a building each to fledging Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.
Jharkhand moved Supreme Court in 2004, where the case is still pending.