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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hyderabad: Govt halts GHMC committee’s decision to gift iPhones to outgoing members

On Thursday, approval to buy 17 new Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (512 GB) was sanctioned by the committee. A budget of Rs 27.23 lakh was approved to purchase the gadgets, each of which would cost Rs 1.6 lakh.

By: Express Web Desk | Hyderabad | Updated: December 19, 2020 11:44:40 am
Mayor Bonthu Rammohan (right) at a recent GHMC review meeting. (Photograph: Twitter/@bonthurammohan)

Less than 24 hours after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) standing committee approved the decision to gift new Apple iPhones to all 17 of its outgoing members — including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor — the decision was rolled back following widespread criticism.

On Thursday, approval to buy 17 new Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (512 GB) smartphones was sanctioned by the committee, headed by Mayor Bonthu Rammohan. A budget of Rs 27.23 lakh was approved to purchase the gadgets, each of which would cost Rs 1.6 lakh.

The sitting corporators are expected to demit office on February 10, 2021 once their term officially ends. Several members, including the Mayor, chose not to contest the elections again this time around.

Facing intense backlash online and an unrelenting attack by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is raring to go up against the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the upcoming GHMC council after February 10, the decision was rolled back.

On Friday evening, Arvind Kumar, the principal secretary of Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) tweeted: “Have spoken with @CommissionrGHMC & this decision of the standing committee (to buy iPhones) has been put on hold indefinitely.”

Calling the standing committee’s decision unilateral, BJP spokesperson K Krishna Saagar Rao had said, “TRS has not learned a lesson. The citizens of the city have defeated them because of this kind of attitude, brazen behavior, irresponsibility, abuse of power, misuse of public money, and now on their way out, they are trying to abuse that limited power they have for another two months.”

The BJP is set to play a key role in the corporation’s policy decisions with 48 corporators being elected to the 150-member council. The TRS will have 56 members, a drop from its present 99. The AIMIM, with 44 members, is more of an ally of the TRS than an Opposition.

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