President to forego accommodation allotted to her
The Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a statement “Considering the fact that the issue has got linked with the issue of war widows’ accommodation… the President has chosen to forego the aforesaid allotment of accommodation proposed to be made to her as her post-retirement home in Pune…”. The statement said the President Pratibha Patil was pained by her portrayal by some people as one who, by agreeing to accept a defence accommodation for her post-retirement home, was insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen. The statement further claimed that the facts are to the contrary and the President has always been proud of the brave jawans who make sacrifices defending our borders.
The controversy arose when Lieutenant Colonel (retired)Suresh Patil, and a member of a Pune-based organisation named ‘Justice for Jawan’, released details of the government’s plan to allot the 2.6-lakh sqft plot for the post retirement house for the president by bringing down two British-era bungalows and cutting numerous trees in violation of the rules. The claim was made on the basis of documents made available using RTI Act.
Lt Col (retd) Suresh Patil has hailed all those who extended a support to the cause including media. Retired Major General Mrinal Suman has also hailed the President's decision and said that it is a great victory for the media and the public opinion makers. He complimented the President for respecting the wishes of the people and giving up the land.
The decision is a trend-setter and points to the immense power that the RTI Act has placed in the hands of the citizens.