It’s over four years since Priyanka Gandhi Vadra bought a piece of land near Shimla for her summer home. But her dream house is still a long haul, for now.
In fact, the construction work at her plot in Shimla’s Charabbra village has come to a halt for the second time.
The reason: Priyanka is reportedly unhappy with the way the cottage was coming up, especially with the size of the rooms. She asked in April for the entire structure to be dismantled, the huge expenditure incurred on construction so far notwithstanding.
Locals say Priyanka couldn’t have asked for a better location. Just 15 km from Shimla, the plot is nestled between the President’s Retreat-located on the Mashobra hill 1,000 feet above the Shimla Ridge-and Hemkunj, the summer residence of the Punjab governor.
With the stunning Shaali peak in the backdrop, there are cedar and pine trees all around.
But more than the scenic beauty, it’s fond memories associated with the place that made Priyanka pick it as the site for her summer abode.
When her late father Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, the family used to stay at the Retreat while on vacation. They would often come down to this place at Charabbra, where Priyanka would play with brother Rahul.
According to Mail Today, in September last year, the slate roof had been brought down after seepage was reported. A pile of bricks, some wooden poles, a dismantled structure, a locked-up shed and some debris now exist at this picturesque location.
It wasn’t easy getting the land, just below the Kalyani helipad, from the Soods, an affluent family now based in the US. The property was registered in the name of over a dozen family members. The tabloid quoted a mediator on condition of anonymity that “it was very difficult to get them together and talk business.” He added: “Incidentally, a death occurred in the family. It was only then that we could reach out to them.” .
Priyanka bought the nearly 1 acre plot (4.25 bighas) for around Rs 47 lakh four years ago. The market value of the plot now is Rs 1 crore a bigha. The then Himachal Pradesh government had relaxed norms under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act to facilitate the sale because under the state’s land laws, only permanent residents can buy land.
Arun Sharma, principal private secretary to the chief minister, says, “There is nothing illegal in the deal. Required permissions have been taken.”
What Priyanka now wants is a double-storey cottage. “Originally it was a lot of wood. Now the walls will be of reinforced concrete and a roof of slate. There were to be three to four rooms on each floor earlier. They were marked as study, guest, family and lounge, though the final shape hadn’t been given,” says a person involved in the construction.
Sources close to Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra say it could be a few months before work resumes.