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Even leasing out Khadki land to President not acceptable: Ex-servicemen

Rashtrapati Bhavan's clarification that plot taken only on lease fails to placate retired military men, who intensify stir by launching signature campaign before Collector's office

Taking note of a report on President Pratibha Patil's retirement home in Khadki that MiD DAY carried recently, the Rashtrapati Bhavan in a communiqu � to MiD DAY clarified the land was just leased out for the President's home.


Upset: Retired Colonel Patil (in black) and other ex-servicemen launch
the signature campaign before the Collector's office. Pic/krunal gosavi


"We have not purchased the land at Khadki but taken it on lease from the Indian Army," the letter signed by Archana Datta, Officer on Special Duty (PR), reads. But defence officials in the city were far from assured as according to them the land should be kept for the use of army men alone. 

"We know that a lease is generally granted for 99 years. The built-up area is 20,000 sq feet with two bungalows for servant quarters and it will take up an approximate area of eight acres. Why is so much land required for the president?" asked Col Suresh Patil (Retd), president, Green Thumb Environmental Protection Group.

He said the land should be kept aside for future generation of armed forces. "This is army land and it should go to the needy jawans, who have lost their limbs in the war. Those who had qualified for the Adarsh Society in Mumbai should be accommodated in Khadki by building houses for them," said Patil.

Patil and other former defence officials in the city intensified their agitation against the proposal for a retirement home for the President on Khadki land by launching a signature campaign before the District Collector's Office.

"We have been getting response from the retired army officers from the city and also from Patna, Visakhapatnam, Delhi, Jabalpur, Belgaum where the signature campaign shall start soon," said Patil.
Patil had warned of plans to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the President did not leave the land. Patil and his colleagues had staged an agitation before the Collector's office on September 5.

Local ex-servicemen, including Col Shashi Anand, Col Sunil Kasture, Veer Chakra recipient Manor S Sathe, Hawaldar Pandurang Patil and citizens Jahangir Mulla and Prakash Sawant have extended their support to Patil over the Khadki land issue.

"So far we have the backing of over 400 retired captains and majors, who have extended their support to this movement through Facebook," said Patil. Col Patil also suggested the president use the Raj Bhavan in the city, which was lying vacant for a year. There is no special provision for houses for president in many democratic countries such US, UK and France.

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