THE name ‘General Pool Residential Accommodation’ (GPRA) is a misnomer. The 110-acre-plus GPRA, located in the heart of New Delhi right on the periphery of Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ), is not just a white-painted, high-ceiling and gated complex where the high and mighty of three arms of a democracy—civil services, judiciary and political executive—are housed. It is the first certified government project under green homes, which contributes zero discharge to Delhi’s municipal waste, taps solar energy to light its tiled and bitumen-laid streets and heat water for bathing and is self-sufficient.
The GPRA, accommodating close to 1,000 families, has a sewage treatment plant which produces treated water not just for irrigation of its 35 species of 9,000 trees and other flora, but also supplies treated water to the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC). The plant has a capacity for treating 500 cum of sewage in a day. It also has a solid and green waste management plant and plastic waste-to-fuel converter plant, which markets fuel.
The complex boasts of a bio-digester community toilet and solar water heating system which supplies hot water to Type VII and VIII bungalows and Type VI towers. The complex saves over Rs. 40 lakh per annum of the national exchequer on account of non-disposal of sewage to the municipal system, recycling of treated water for horticulture, production of manure and non-laying of trunk sewer lines. It has successfully checked depletion of ground water resources with capping of bore wells.
Moreover, it has a terrace garden, open theatre, play school, recreation centre, shopping complex, ATM, Mother Dairy booth, basement and stilt parking and own maintenance office. The complex, claims RK Agarwal, National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) Limited manager in charge of caretaking and maintenance, supplies treated water to the NDMC.
The GPRA, built by NBCC, can match the very best of the world when it comes to aesthetics, architecture, cleanliness and luxury. No wonder, its residents are pleasantly surprised when they move into the well-lit and airy houses. In comparison to the LBZ bungalows, the satisfaction levels in the GPRA are quite high. The Union Ministry of Urban Development has now started allotting the houses.
How GPRA came into being
There is an interesting story behind the construction of GPRA. Most of the LBZ bungalows, meant to provide accommodation to civil servants and high-ranking politicians, came up during the British Raj. Later, the Government of India added Ravindra Nagar, Bharati Nagar and Shanti Nagar, popularly known as Aan, Baan and Shaan.
But in early 2000, it was realised that accommodation was still woefully inadequate and non-availability of residences was a major factor for growing dissatisfaction in the bureaucracy. It was found that many civil servants in the central government had to compromise and stay in houses much below their entitlements.
According to Arup Roy Choudhury, Chairman, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), who then chaired the NBCC, a survey done by Director (Estate) in the Ministry of Urban Development found that the satisfaction level amongst the highest echelons of babudom—joint secretaries, additional secretaries and secretaries—was ‘most poor’ on account of accommodation. It was decided that at least 500 houses needed to be built for the officers immediately within or around the LBZ.
The GPRA, accommodating close to 1,000 families, has a sewage treatment plant which produces treated water not just for irrigation of its 35 species of 9,000 trees and other flora, but also supplies treated water to NDMC.
AFTER carrying out extensive search and considering options like rationalisation of existing bungalows, the Ministry found a location that fitted the bill. The location was being used by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to dump its cement and steel. A part of it was within Safdarjung Airport area which had become defunct. The area, measuring 123 acres, had already been classified for government housing, government offices and greens.
The government sold three acres of the land to Leela Hotel for Rs. 610 crore to raise revenues. In the last quarter of 2007, the NBCC started constructing the complex. About one-and-a-half years later, it started handover in phases to the Ministry. By April 2012, it handed over the entire complex, comprising 14 Type VIII bungalows, 102 Type VII bungalows and 376 Type VI flats to bureaucrats chosen by the Director (Estate). Along with the occupants, families of domestic helps also moved into 500 EWS quarters.
The Type VII (built-up area 454 square metres) and Type VIII (809 square metres) are duplex bungalows designed on the pattern of the LBZ. While the first are occupied by officers of senior additional secretary and secretary level, the second category houses senior secretaries, high court judges and ministers of State. The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission Chairman, PL Punia, Election Commissioner HS Brahma and Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu are among the occupants of the Type VIII bungalows.
The bungalows have twin entrances—one for office entrance and one for the occupant. The occupants can use the forecourt for meeting visitors while the sprawling back lawns are meant for family get-togethers. The bungalows comprise four bedrooms, one office-cum-bedroom, drawing room and family lounge.
EACH flat (four on each floor), has three bedrooms, one guestroom, a domestic help room, and drawing and dining space. Each floor opens into a central vista. Each flat has three entries—main entry, one from the domestic help room and one from the service staircase. There are nine towers, varying in heights fromG+8 to G+9 floors. There is underground parking under the central vista where the occupants park their extra vehicles. The complex has 7.5 acres of forest surrounded by a jogging track, club and sports centre. The landscaping of the area has been done in a way to afford ample greenery and stone elements.
The GPRA has three entries but the one which witnesses maximum traffic is from the INA side. One of the entries runs into an electric substation now covered with a beautiful façade. NBCC Chairman-cum-Managing Director Anoop Kumar Mittal, who has literally grown up with the project, has ordered beautification of the Leela Hotel side entry and installation of a fountain in the joggers’ park. Mittal, who was Director (Projects) at the time of construction of the complex, has also ordered his Project Manager (Estate) to visit the occupants on Saturdays and Sundays for their feedback.
An indication of the GPRC’s success is that the NBCC is already in the process of replicating the model in East Kidwai Nagar (New Delhi).