'Governor did not demand Raj Bhavan renovation'



Bengaluru: As Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala faced flak over the expenditure on Raj Bhavan renovation, Karnataka government today justified the works saying it was a "routine exercise" that was set in motion much before the present incumbent assumed office.Vala had not demanded any renovation works at Raj Bhavan and the charges made against him were "not only false, but also baseless," the government said, a day after the Governor was embroiled in a controversy after the expenditure came into public domain in reply to an RTI query.

Vala had landed in controversy over expenditure of Rs 4 crore on renovation of Raj Bhavan and another Rs 1.30 crore on air travel, including by special flights during nine months.

The Congress government in Karnataka gave an approval on January 5, 2015 for taking up seven civil works at a cost of Rs 3 crore, besides electrical works worth Rs 1 crore, according to information furnished by the state public works department in reply to the RTI query.

The statement today said Raj Bhavan with a two-century old history is a heritage building visited by Heads of States and Heads of Governments both from India and abroad.

"The Public Works Department takes care of both maintenance of the building as well as the surroundings of the Raj Bhavan, keeping in view of not merely the dignity of the Office of the Hon'ble Governor, but also to respect its high-profile visitors," the statement said.

The building maintenance or renovation, which is taken up once in three or five years, "is a routine exercise", Principal Secretary Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms Dr E V Ramana Reddy said in the statement.

"In fact, for the renovation works at Raj Bhavan, the ball was set in motion, earlier to the assumption of office by the incumbent Governor," he said.

The renovation works were planned before the present Governor had taken charge and were only executed during his tenure, he said, adding, "the Governor Vajubhai Vala had not demanded any renovation works at Raj Bhavan."

Vala, former Gujarat finance minister, had assumed charge as Governor on September 1, 2014. The approval for renovation works came in reply to a letter to government by Governor's secretary on June 17, 2014.

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