Maha: Ajit Pawar alleges Rs 500 crore scam in Information and Publicity Dept during Fadnavis-led govt
Government officials gave approval to publish media advertisements worth more than Rs 500 crore in 2019 without the sanction from the chief minister, Pawar claimed
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Ajit Pawar on Thursday alleged that a scam of Rs 500 crore took place in the state Information and Publicity Department during the tenure of the government led by Devendra Fadnavis.
Government officials gave approval to publish media advertisements worth more than Rs 500 crore in 2019 without the sanction from the chief minister, Pawar claimed and demanded incumbent CM Eknath Shinde to punish the officials involved in the scam.
Speaking in the Assembly, the senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said, "The officials had mentioned in the file that the chief minister had been informed about the expenditure of Rs 500 crore for publishing advertisements without actually taking a sanction from him."
The information and publicity department is handled by the chief minister. The Fadnavis-led government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena (undivided) ruled the state during 2014-19.
"In 2019-20, the government had withheld the payment of these advertisement bills since there was no approval. But now the present government has given orders to make the payments. This is serious and the government shouldn't support such activities," Pawar said.
"Such culprits should be punished with suspension. The chief minister's approval is mandatory for media advertisements. In this case, approval was given for advertisements of more than Rs 500 crore without the sanction from the chief minister during the election year 2019," he claimed.
Without naming Brijesh Singh, who was the director general of the information and publicity department in 2019, Pawar said the probe into the approval of advertisements conducted under former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray indicted the then principal secretary social justice and DG of information and publicity, who is now with the chief minister's office as principal secretary.
The probe report had also said that all departments should get the sanction of the chief secretary, the minister concerned and the deputy chief minister, who holds the finance department, Pawar said.
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