Priyanka's Shimla cottage runs into rough weather

Priyanka's Shimla cottage runs into rough weather

Priyanka, the daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was very particular about the slate tiled roof. She had even selected multi-coloured slates procured from the hill state.

"There was some fault in the design of the slate roof, it has been dismantled. The cottage would now have a wooden ceiling with a slanting steel roof," Neeraj Saini, who was overseeing the construction work at the site, told IANS.

He said there was a big seepage problem in the slate roof.
"The corrugated galvanised steel is hail, rain and snow resistant. It helps check seepage and dampness in the inside walls. But there will be no change in the hill architecture style," said Saini, who is associated with newly-appointed Delhi-based architect firm Kohelika Kohli Architects.

Kohelika Kohli Architects was allotted the cottage designing and construction work in April this year. Earlier, it was with another Delhi-based firm.

The under-construction cottage also has some problems in its architectural design. "There is a problem in the columns too. We are redesigning these. Even the size of some of the rooms would be designed again," Saini said.

In typical hill architecture style with wooden frames and a sloping roof, the double-storey cottage is coming up at a height of more than 8,000 feet amid thick verdant forests of pine and cedar in Charabra, just 15 km uphill from here.

The cottage, spread over a three-and-a-half bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) agricultural plot, is close to The Retreat, which is the summer holiday resort of President Pratibha Patil, and the Oberoi Group's luxury spa Wildflower Hall.

Priyanka, her children and mother Sonia Gandhi frequently visit to inspect the construction work.

However, now Priyanka's arrival in the new cottage is likely to be delayed by one year.
"We still have to undertake huge construction work, including interior designing. All the works require at least a year. During winter, we have to stop construction for some weeks," Saini said.

The Vadras purchased land for around Rs.47 lakh (Rs.4.7 million) from US-based Satish Kumar Sood and Satinder Sood in 2007. The then Congress government in the state had relaxed norms to let the Vadras buy the land.

Under Himachal Pradesh land laws, only the state's permanent residents can buy land in the state. Others who want to purchase land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek relaxations under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act from the state government.

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