U’khand CM’s office spent more than Rs. 68 lakh on ‘chai, paani’ in 10 months: RTI

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Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s office spent more than Rs. 68 lakh on tea and refreshments in 10 months since he took charge last March, an RTI query has revealed.
In a letter dated January 22, additional secretary (secretariat administration) Vinod Raturi told RTI activist Hemant Singh that Rs. 68,59,865 had been spent on ‘chai paani’ (tea and refreshments) since Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Trivendra Singh Rawat assumed the Chief Minister’s office on March 18, 2017.
A break-up of the expenses suggests that an average of Rs 22,000 was spent per day on entertaining about 150-200 guests.
The Chief Minister’s office, however, said the amount spent on refreshments was Rs. 50,38,880 — Rs. 33,85,791 at CM’s residence and Rs. 16,53,089 at his office.
The Chief Minister’s media coordinator, Darshan Rawat said they are trying to find out how the Rs. 68.59 lakh figure was arrived at.
He said people visit the Chief Minister from every corner of the state, and as a gesture, they are offered tea or refreshments.
He also pointed out that the expenses were “controlled” as compared to those of the previous government.
“Unlike others, the Chief Minister (Trivendra Singh Rawat) has said no to organizing programs at hotels in a bid to cut down expenses,” he said.
He was referring to the Rs. 1.5 crore spent on tea and refreshments between February 2014 and July 2016, when Congress’s Harish Rawat was in power, which was revealed though a similar RTI query.
The BJP, which got majority and formed the government in Uttarakhand in March 2017, had criticized the expenditure on refreshments during Harish Rawat’s tenure, and had promised to cut down “unnecessary expenses,” when it came to power.
Party spokesperson Anil Kapoor Dabbu said he was unaware of the RTI.
The Congress was quick to attack. “BJP is a party with the difference. So whatever they do is justified,” Mathura Dutta Joshi, a party spokesperson said sarcastically.
A copy of the RTI letter is being circulated across social media platforms after the activist uploaded the letter on his Facebook account, drawing critical responses.
Activists in the state also criticized the spending.

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