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Rs 8 crore were spent by the Maharashtra government from its contingency fund (CF) to meet publicity expenses for the foundation stone laying ceremonies of projects kicked off by the Prime Minister last December. The projects also included the “jal poojan” of the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in Arabian Sea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 24. The PWD Department stated this in the supplementary demands for grants tabled by the Finance Department in both Houses of the state Assembly on the first day of the Budget Session.
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“It was decided to provide funds of Rs 8 crore for advertisement and publicity for the Jal Poojan ceremony of the memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and (for) inauguration of the Mumbai Metro line, Sweree-Nhawa Sheva project and new railway projects under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP),” the department stated.
It stated that the amount was withdrawn from the contingency fund (CF) since the expenditure was of an “urgent nature”. However, the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) criticised the government over the withdrawal from the CF.
“The CF is reserved for purposes of urgency and this fund must be used carefully. However, the state has a normal practice of using the CF for any purpose.
“We are asking for financial assistance to farmers but the government has no money for them. At the same time, it is using the CF for publicity purposes. This is disgusting,” he said. Modi had laid the foundation stones for key infrastructure projects, including 22.5 km-long Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, two new metro projects, and for multiple works to be carried out as part of the third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project.
The supplementary demands for grants worth Rs 11,104 crore would be discussed on March 14 and 15. The government has made a provision of Rs 14.07 crore in the supplementary grants as expenditure to provide financial assistance to the kin of farmers who had committed suicide. Besides, the Finance Department had made a provision of Rs 1,000 as a token for the purchase of 88 branded touchscreen detachable laptops for members of the Legislative Council, the total expenditure for which was Rs 1.44 crore.