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Government officials used slum development funds to fatten their perks!

February 28, 2007

Shame on them. The slum rehabilitation body SPPL (Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Limited) allegedly allowed two former ministers of the state in the Democratic Front government in Maharashra to benefit from its funds even though a government resolution expressly forbids ministers who head public sector undertakings, state level committees, councils and commissions to take perks like vehicles, residences and mobile phones from the body’s funds.

I had written about SPPL’s perfidy earlier but now some more facts have come to light. SPPL’s project started with much fanfare almost a decade ago, but hardly any slum dwellers have benefited from it. A full report on the bitter reality of slum development can be accessed here.

So who are these tainted ministers and what did they do? According to a TOI (Mumbai) report dated today (not available online), the “private secretaries and PA’s of two ministers” misused SPPL’s vehicles. “The staff of then NCP Housing minister of state for Housing, Nawab Malik” did it from October 1999 to November 2004 and the staff of then state housing minister Dayanand Mhaske did it from November 2004 to 2006. And guess how much they spent? The report says:

Their collective bills on fuel, maintenance, repairs and drivers’ bills came to Rs 13.49 lakh (over $30, 000) and were billed to SPPL.

Well, at least this time the report has appeared in the main newspaper, even if it is on page Five. Earlier, when there was news that SPPL’s perfidy had come to light, I could find it only in the tabloid Mumbai Mirror.

And now Malik is saying that he never used those cars, his staff did, and that too without his knowledge. Apparently however there is a letter which clearly states that the cars were to be used for “official” purposes “as and when the minister of state gave directions.” So how can either Malik or Mhaske shrug off the responsibility? Mhaske is blaming his secretary.

Hopefully both these ministers will be forced to take responsibility for this and adequately punished. They have committed a crime against our nation. How can we even dream of modern, world class cities as long as we neglect the poor?

As long as we allow them to live like this:

While our ministers live like this:

In fact any minister even suspected of using money marked for slum development, should be first and foremost asked to vacate his government accomodation.

Related Reading: Getting rid of corruption in India
Slum Rehab project in jeopardy
Mumbai envisions itself a slum free city by 2015
Street children are deprived of an education
Unless we get rid of corruption we cannot rise as a nation

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