Our state ministers could well learn a thing or two from Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. Set to be sworn in as chief minister of Delhi on Saturday, Kejriwal has, for one, refused to move into an official bungalow.
Contrast this with our ministers who have, over the past year, spent over Rs14 crore of taxpayers’ money on renovating their bungalows and on domestic air travel.
Among these ministers are chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who has spent Rs33.5lakh on his official residence ‘Varsha’ at Malabar Hill. Besides, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar ran up a bill of Rs37.98 lakh on repairs and renovation to his bungalow ‘Devgiri’ while home minister RR Patil has drawn up an expense of Rs20 lakh.
Besides, state irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare and rural development minister Jayant Patil have spent Rs18 lakh each over the last year.
As regards domestic airfare, a total of 43 ministers have spent Rs2 crore in the last one year. In his category, forest minister Patangrao Kadam spent the maximum amount – Rs46 lakh.
State food and civic supplies minister Anil Deshmukh spent Rs39 lakh, agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil spent Rs36 lakh and revenue minister Narayan Rane Rs31 lakh.
Right To Information activist Anil Galgali called this a “sheer waste of public money”.
“Our politicians should learn some moral lesson from Arvind Kejriwal. Ministers should be held accountable and responsible if they waste public money,” said Galgali. “They mindlessly spend taxpayers’ money. Due to mounting debt, the government curtails spending on welfare schemes, but when it comes to repairing of ministers’ bungalows or travel, they forget the funds crunch,” said Galgali.
Asked about this, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar told reporters on Thursday that he would initiate an inquiry if public money had been wasted on repairing bungalows and on airfare.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan: Rs33.5lakh
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar: Rs37.98 lakh
Home minister RR Patil: Rs20 lakh
Irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare: Rs18 lakh
Rural development minister Jayant Patil: Rs18 lakh
Forest minister Patangrao Kadam: Rs46 lakh
Food and civic supplies minister Anil Deshmukh: Rs39 lakh
Agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil: Rs36 lakh
Revenue minister Narayan Rane: Rs31 lakh
43 ministers spent Rs2 crore on air travel over the last 1 year