Within just about three months after the national capital got its highest flagpole installed at the Central Park here, disagreement has now surfaced over who will bear the maintenance cost, running into lakhs of rupees, to keep the tricolour flying.
The tricolour, which is 90 feet wide and 60 feet long and flies atop a 207-foot flagpole at Connaught Place, was put up jointly by Naveen Jindal's Flag Foundation of India (FFI) and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in March.
According to the FFI, which is at present bearing the maintenance cost, the organisation was responsible till the flag was hoisted, since then all expenses were to be borne by
the agency on whose land it was installed – in this case, NDMC.
"According to the practice, once we gift the tricolour to a particular agency or individual, then it is their responsibility to take care of the expeniture. We have put up
56 such flags across the country, and the organisation on whose land a flag has been hoisted bears the expense," said a senior FFI official.
While the FFI maintains that it is the civic agency's responsibility, NDMC officials claim the decision that the Flag Foundation will take care of all the expenses was taken
before the flag was put up.
"It was pre-decided that FFI will bear the expenditure. We had told them before installing the flag that NDMC will not take care of any expense other than lights (installed to illuminate the tricolour)," a senior NDMC official said.
The NDMC is only bearing the expenditure of the halogen lights installed to illuminate the flag during night, while other maintenance costs are now being borne by the FFI.
According to the FFI, the expenses include Rs 52,000 per month for three guards who man the structure round-the-clock, Rs 8,000-10,000 for one-time repair of the flag as and when required, Rs 64,000 for a new flag, the cost of CCTV cameras installed around it, and other miscellaneous expenses.
The FFI has written a letter to NDMC to bear the rest of the expenditure. According to FFI officials, the civic agency has been "non-committal" in its response and has instead asked the FFI to bear the expenses.
"The flag got damaged many a times. Sometimes it is repairable, sometimes we have to replace it. A single flag costs Rs 64,000. Also, initially there were cases when people used to mount the pole and write something. We had to paint it,"