Mumbai: It seems the UPA's austerity drive is long forgotten. At least in Maharashtra. The Cong-NCP govt is busy sprucing up the official residences of ministers. So far, the Public Works Department has spent Rs 8 crore on the palatial bungalows of 20 Cabinet ministers.
CNN-IBN has accessed documents that show how the Public Works department has been directed to carry out renovation at these ministerial bungalows, disregarding the aam-aadmi's (common man's) concern over rising food prices and the State government's burden of Rs 2000 crore debt.
While renovation of Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal's bungalow costs Rs 43 lakh, that of Finance Minister Sunil Tatkare goes to over Rs 50 lakh. Refurbishing PWD Minister Jaydatta Kshirsagar's house will cost Rs 88 lakh and over Rs 40 lakh for Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil's bungalow.
"This is ridiculous. Why spend public money on such repairs. If the Ministers don't like their accommodation, they can shift into their own homes," says civic activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu.
But Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan justifies the expenses, saying, "Agar kharcha zaroori hai to karna hai." (We have to spend if it is necessary)
But Rs 8 crore for renovating 20 houses? Is that a necessary expenditure? Especially when the same amount can be used to build a block of flats for the aam admi (common man) who voted this govt to power.