A guard outside the Vasant Vihar transit camp. (Prem Singh)
New Delhi, Dec. 25: D7/11 Vasant Vihar is officially a “transit camp” to lure domestic and NRI entrepreneurs to invest in Jharkhand.
Unofficially, the mid-size bungalow in the posh locality has largely been chief minister Arjun Munda’s “Delhi residence” since it was taken on rent by the state industry department this March.
The state pays a whopping rent of Rs 5 lakh per month for the two-storey building, which has undergone massive renovation with Rs 20 lakh spent on interiors, ostensibly to suit the tastes of the powers that be.
The supposed agenda, for which it was opened, however, remains unfulfilled as not a single business offer has materialised at the camp yet.
During his visits to Delhi in last few months, Munda has mostly stayed in bungalow, though the state guesthouse that also houses an exclusive suite for the chief minister is a stone’s throw away.
The chief minister, however, was not willing to comment on his stays.
“The investment centre is our window in the national capital and is meant to act as liaison hub for investors from India and abroad and our officials and ministers to plan business ventures in Jharkhand. It has come up only a few months ago. So, it will take some time to function in its full capacity,” he told The Telegraph.
Officials at the transit camp — it has had a staff of around 10 —on the other hand fiercely defended the state move, saying the facility had just come up and it was too early to expect immediate results.
“We are not the only state to start such a centre. Many states like Maharashtra and Uttarakhand have similar transit camps and they help in acting as an interface between investors and the government. The idea is to help investors and corporate houses in discussing plans in the capital, as many find it difficult to go to Ranchi for every little thing. As for the chief minister’s stay in the building, only the CM’s secretariat can comment on the matter,” said K.N. Chaubey, the centre’s co-ordinator.
He explained that Jharkhand government was particularly keen to invite private companies to invest in the social sector through the camp.
“Areas such as mining have been explored in the state, but we have been struggling to draw investors to take up projects in the fields of health, education, etc. With the centre in Delhi, we are hopeful that many interested parties will find it easy to come and discuss future roadmaps. In any case, the projects will not be finalised here. After receiving proposals, we will send them to the chief secretary who will refer them to the departments concerned,” Chaubey added.
K.N. Tripathi, deputy leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly who was in capital, told The Telegraph: “This is sheer wastage of money and misuse of power. The centre has been opened on the pretext of luring investors while the CM and some bureaucrats are using it for residential purposes at the cost of taxpayers’ money. Such extravagance is totally unheard of.”