Ministers, Babus Live It Up In Cash-strapped State

Ministers, Babus Live It Up In Cash-strapped State

13 March 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: In debt-ridden Jammu and Kashmir, ministers and bureaucrats are living it up. The state government is spending lavishly on their official bungalows, vehicles and air travel even as the total liabilities of the government have crossed a whopping Rs 40,000 crore. The Jammu and Kashmir government purchased 167 new luxurious vehicles for its ministers, chairpersons of various boards and commissions and bureaucrats between November 2008 and 2013. It spent Rs 20.72 crore on renovation of ministers’ bungalows, their travelling allowance and telephone bills in the last two years. Of the total amount, Rs 9.51 crore were incurred on ministers’ air travel alone. In December 2009, the Omar Abdullah government had introduced certain austerity measures to curb expenditure. It had banned parties by ministers, purchase of furniture, fixtures and other equipment. It had ordered Director Garages to keep a watch on allotment of vehicles to officers. The total liabilities of the state government are increasing with each passing year and these may touch a staggering Rs 45,000 crore-mark this fiscal. “The new vehicles purchased by the State Motor Garages (SMG) Department include Tata Safari, Mahindra Scorpio, Toyota Innova, Maruti SX4, Maruti Swift Dzire, Sonata Gold, Mahindra Xylo, Choverlet Optra and Chevrolet Tavera,” said sources. “While 16 vehicles were provided to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, eight vehicles each were given to Finance Department, Civil Secretariat and General Administration Department, two to Deputy Chief Minister, 25 to different courts and at least two each to members of council of ministers and their staff,” the sources said. Currently, there are 476 vehicles, including 212 Ambassador cars, 26 Innova, 33 Tavera, 26 Scorpio, 38 Bolero, 36 Gypsies,36 Safari and 32 Maruti SX4 in the fleet of the SMG department. “There are 342 vehicles of the SMG department allotted to various district-level officers. While no fuel is being provided by the SMG Department, the average monthly expenditure on maintenance per vehicle is Rs 1,680,” the sources said. Footing fat bills Over Rs 20 cr spent on renovation of bungalows, telephone bills, air travel of ministers in 2 yrs 167 new vehicles, including SUVs, purchased for ministers, bureaucrats in last 5 yrs In December 2009, the Omar Abdullah government had introduced austerity measures to curb expenditure It had banned parties by ministers, purchase of furniture, fixtures and other equipment