New Delhi: A series of Right to Information (RTI) applications filed by an activist have revealed that the Narendra Modi government made Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) shell nearly Rs 82 crores over 550-575 events held to commemorate the completion of three years of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre through the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas Sammelan’ (SSSVS). According to a report published by an online news website, the RTI responses collected from various PSUs showed that money from their coffers was spent on organising events that publicised government schemes at the behest of ministers.
PSUs were tasked with organising government events
While responding to the queries raised by RTI activist Neeraj Sharma, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), said that a meeting was organised by the Minister of state for petroleum and natural gas on May 18, 2017 at his residential office, which was attended by chairman and managing directors and directors of oil PSUs like GAIL, ONGC, IOCL, OIL, BPCL, HPCL, NRL, CPCL etc. The reply said, “During deliberations, it was decided by the MoP&NG that all the oil PSUs would carry out various events on the subject theme in 227 districts all over the country out of the 583 districts identified for the purpose.” For the rest of the 356 districts, it was decided that they will be taken care of by other PSUs in the ministries of power, coal, mining, aviation, shipping, telecommunications, chemicals and fertilisers, urban development, information and broadcasting, etc.
Idea was to make PSUs bear the cost
The RTI responses also showed that another meeting was held four days later, on May 22, when the joint secretary in the MoP&NG had hinted that the cost for each event would be between Rs 10-15 lakhs, except the event at Varanasi, “which may likely incur Rs 50 lakhs considering Hon’ble PM’s constituency and likely visit of Cabinet Ministers for the event.” According to another reply submitted by National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) India Limited, during the course of the SSSVS, PSUs were mandated with showcasing Centre’s schemes, like PMUY, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ujala Yojana, Jan Aushadhi Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Swachh Bharat – construction of toilets – Udan scheme, Gram Sadak Yojana, Smart Cities programme, Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao Yojana and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.
A memo sent out by MoUD on May 29, 2017, to the PSUs stated that the government had decided to organise SSSVS as a mass outreach programme in various locations and centres across the country highlighting the benefits given under the flagship schemes of the Central government. The ministry had stated that during the event, “interactive sessions will be held with beneficiaries who have received benefits under the flagship schemes.”
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