New Delhi: Charity begins from home, and from the top. Setting an example of streamlining expenditure, the President House has decided not to purchase the expensive limousine this year, besides cutting down food menu, shortlisting guests and limiting floral decorations at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Sources told IANS that the famed Pullman limousine from Mercedes Benz, used by several Indian Presidents, completed its life of 8-9 years, and was due for replacement. “But President Ram Nath Kovind decided not to purchase a new limousine,” said a source.
The jet black Pullman limousine, seen at Republic Day and several important functions, is used by the President at ceremonial functions. The present Pullman, a premium extra long wheel limousine with ultra luxury interiors, was reportedly purchased during the tenure of Pratibha Patil. The life of the President’s official ceremonial vehicle had come to an end, but in a bid to adhere to austerity measures, the President decided to continue with the existing old model.
The President House which has its unique kitchen and bakery will also cut down its lavish menu. The number of food items served during various tea parties and state dinners will be less. Floral decorations, lighting and other decorative items used in different ceremonies will be limited. “From the opulent, we will now have elegant arrangements, the objective is to reduce expenses. State banquets, other important gatherings will have a limited guestlist. We have to abide by social distancing,” sources said.
President Ram Nath Kovind also decided that he would “forego” 30 per cent of his salary for the PM CARES Fund for a year and reduce expenses of the Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the steps to make more resources available for Covid-19 relief measures.
The President’s initiative is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to contribute to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund to help strengthen the fight against the dreaded virus, which has claimed 2,549 lives besides infecting over 78,000 people across the country.
The President has instructed the Rashtrapati Bhavan to set an example by economising the expenditure, making optimal use of resources and dovetailing the saved money to combat Covid-19 and mitigate the people’s economic plight.
In the President’s estimate, this will be a small but significant contribution to realizing the government’s vision of making India self-reliant and energising the nation to take up the challenge to fight the pandemic.
To reduce its expenditure, the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday announced undertaking some measures that include no new capital works during financial year 2020-21 and only completion of the ongoing works.
Repair and maintenance work will be minimised in the Rashtrapati Bhavan to ensure upkeep of assets and there will be a substantial reduction in the use of office consumables. For instance, the Rashtrapati Bhavan will use e-technology to cut down the use of paper to avoid wastage and make the office eco-friendly. Efforts will be made to save energy and fuel by rationalising their usage.
It is estimated that these measures will save nearly 20 per cent of the budget of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the current financial year.