7, Race Course Road
|7, Race Course Road|
Location of 7 Race Course Road in Delhi
|Current tenants||Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India|
7, Race Course Road (officially: Panchavati and also 7, RCR) is the official residence and principal workplace of the Prime Minister of India, where he lives and holds most of his official or political meetings. Situated on Race Course Road, New Delhi, the official name of the PM's residence complex is Panchavati. It is spread over 12 acres, comprising five bungalows in Lutyens' Delhi, built in the 1980s, which are PM office-cum-residence zone and security establishment, including one occupied by Special Protection Group (SPG) and another being a guest house, though all are collectively called 7, Race Course Road. The entire Race Course Road, named the Delhi Race Course, which lies right across the road, is now closed to the public. Rajiv Gandhi was the first PM to stay at 7 Race Course Road in 1984.
It does not house the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), which is located in the South Block of Secretariat Building, on Raisina Hill nearby in New Delhi, where Cabinet Secretariat functions. The nearest Delhi Metro station is Race Course. When a new Prime Minister is nominated his/her original house is for the time being given a security detail and the new office holder is then advised to move in the 7, RCR at the earliest possible date.
Earlier, the Prime Ministers of India lived in their own house or house allotted to them through Parliament allotment by virtue of being an MP. Jawaharlal Nehru took up residence in Teen Murti Bhavan, which used to be the residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in British India; it was formerly called Flagstaff House. After Nehru's death in 1964, the building was turned to a Nehru Memorial Museum & Library.
The next Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri chose 10 Janpath, where he stayed 1964-1966. It was later allotted to the Congress (I) party, though a part of it became biographical museum, Lal Bhadur Shastri Memorial at 1, Moti Lal Nehru Place (formerly 10 Janpath), adjacent to the complex. The current resident of 10 Janpath is Congress President, Sonia Gandhi.
After the assassination of Indira Gandhi at her 1, Safdarjung Road residence garden while going towards neighboring 1, Akbar Road office for an interview on October 31, 1984, it was converted into the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum. Former Chief Justice of India Sudhi Ranjan Das had previously lived at this address before Mrs. Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi her son and successor as PM, along with his family, became the first occupant of 7, Race Course Road in 1984. The subsequent Prime Minister V. P. Singh made it into a permanent residence of the Prime Minister. In the 1990s I.K. Gujral and some of his predecessors, used 7, Race Course Road as Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
The 15th and current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi chose 5, Race Course Road as his residence as the 7 RCR was being refurbished at that time, after his predecessor Singh had vacated it. 7, Race Course Road was chosen as Modi's office.
When V P Singh became the Prime Minister, Ministry of Urban Affairs thought of designating 7 RCR premises occupied by Rajiv Gandhi as the permanent residence-cum-office of Prime Minister to ensure that all successive prime ministers were allotted this on assuming office. A government notification on 30 May 1990, officially designated these bungalows as the official residence of Indian Prime Minister.
The 12 acres Prime Minister's residence was built in the 1980s. It does not have his office inside the house, but has a conference room for informal meetings. PM's residence-cum-office and security spread across five bungalows 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, including 5, Race Course Road, the Private Residential Zone for the Prime Minister, though he operates from 7, Race Course Road.
Bungalow 1, RCR is a helipad for the service of Prime Minister which is being used so since September 2003. Earlier it was resided in by S Venugopalachari, a TDP who vacated it on government’s requests with a purpose of beefing up the security. Its under the control of the SPG. This was the last addition to the premises the bungalow, the entire road with bungalows number 1, 3. 5, 7 and 9 came under PM’s offices.
Bungalow 3 which was earlier the residence of Dr. Manmohan Singh has now been converted into a guesthouse for PM's guests.
Bungalow No. 9 RCR, is occupied by the Special Protection Group (SPG) that guards the PM. A 1.5 km long underground tunnel connects the Indian prime minister's residence to Safdarjung Airport, where VVIP helicopters land. Constructed beyond Kamal Ataturk Marg, Golf Course and Safdarjung Tomb and then an overground drive to surface at the helicopter hangar at the airport, work on the tunnel began in 2010 and was completed by July 2014 and Modi was the first PM to use it.
In 2001, during the tenure of Vajpayee, a state-of-the-art auditorium was constructed at the cost of ₹ 2.68 crore and was and christened as Panchvati, after the spot where Rama and Sita had built their hut during their exile. Its equipped with hi-tech gadgets and facilities for video conferencing and simultaneous translations This can be modelled into 2-3 conference rooms and can also act as a banquet for a gather of 200-300 people. This can be used as a cabinet meeting room and can also be arranged to form a theatre.
While the government run Special Protection Group (SPG) is the primary agency in-charge of the security, it is aided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Delhi Police to provide three-rung security for the estate. There is only one entrance to 7 Race Course Road, which is guarded by the SPG. Only those visitors whose names have been given to SPG by the prime minister's personal secretaries are allowed in. The rule applies to everybody - including the national security adviser, top bureaucrats, relatives and guests (barring close family). Visitors are expected to carry an identity card. No outside vehicle is allowed to go beyond this checkpoint and even high profile visitors including cabinet ministers have to park their official vehicles by the checkpoint. Special SPG vehicles are used to carry the guests from the checkpoint to the residential office of the PM. The only exception to this rule allowed by SPG is for the SPG protectors themselves who are allowed to take the vehicle carrying them into the complex.
The whole area is a no-fly zone and airspace usage around the area is highly restricted and monitored. Over the years its security has gradually been beefed up, a bulletproof glass-tube passage was built in 2003, connecting 3, Race Course Road, at the Prime Minister’s residence to Panchvati or 7 Race Course, where the PM meets people and delegations and holds official meetings. Also a concrete wall was added on the periphery, separating the house from the main road, to render any truck bomb or a car bomb attack ineffective. However PM residence is surrounded by various high rise building and public structures, from Samrat Hotel, Ashoka Hotel and state guesthouses on the one side to the Delhi Gymkhana Club (DCG), and Delhi Race Course which lies across the road, thus plans for a Helipad within the complex were mooted for several years for that reason. In fact by 2004, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) took over most of the rooms of Samrat Hotel overlooking the PM's residence and watchtowers were erected inside Delhi Gymkhana and it can be accessed only via Safdarjung Road entry. Campus has a power substation and doctors and nurses from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences are on duty round the clock there are several ambulances on standby, one of which always accompanies the prime minister's motorcade. The civic officials ensure that there are no traffic bottlenecks on Kamal Attaturk Marg that runs outside the bungalows.
Besides the secretarial staff, it has a support staff of about 50 gardeners, peons and electricians. They are employed after a thorough background check.
The workplace at 7 RCR has two small rooms on either side from the entrance for each of the two personal secretaries. Then there is a small corridor with a visitor's room to the right. Further ahead is a chamber to meet guests. Adjacent to that is the living space for larger meetings, behind which is the dining room where breakfast and lunch meetings are hosted. A corridor from 7 RCR leads to Panchvati which can be segmented into two or three conference rooms or a large banquet hall. This is where Singh hosted David Cameron, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
On the walls are artworks loaned by the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) which are often changes in consultation with the prime minister's office. The gifts received by the PM are either displayed at 7 RCR or are sent to the toshakhana (treasure house).
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