DEHRADUN, April 26:
Taking cognizance of media reports that the Trivendra Singh Government had cleared payment of around Rs 1.5 crores to singer Kailash Kher from the disaster management funds, the BJP State President Ajay Bhatt on Wednesday registered his objection before Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. After Bhatt’s objection in this regard, the Rawat Government stopped the payment of around Rs 1.5 crore to singer Kailash Kher’s company out of the state’s disaster relief fund for making a tourism video.
This was informed to this correspondent by BJP State President Ajay Bhatt. Bhatt reminded that this had become a big issue during the elections and that the BJP had raised serious objections to the payment to Kher from disaster management funds for a video allegedly made to promote tourism but actually aimed at publicity of the then CM Harish Rawat.
Bhatt added that an order had been issued by the state finance department for payment of 75 per cent of the remaining dues to Kailasa Entertainment Pvt Ltd. However, after he (Bhatt) put his foot down in this regard and calling up the CM, the Chief Secretary and Secretary Finance, the payment had been stopped for now. Bhatt stated that the party’s biggest objection was to the fact that the payment was being made out of disaster management funds which were meant exclusively for benefit and rehabilitation of disaster victims.
Bhatt hinted that the bureaucracy did not bring the actual facts before the CM Rawat while taking his permission on the file for payment to Kher’s company. This was highly objectionable since they ought to have made the CM aware of the facts before seeking permission.
He added that he had been informed by Finance Secretary Amit Singh Negi that the cheque of a sum of nearly Rs 1.5 crore which had been sent to the Rudraprayag District Magistrate for payment to Kailasa Entertainment Pvt Ltd had been recalled back. He further claimed that Rawat had expressed regret over the fact that he had not been briefed by the officers while seeking his approval.
It may be recalled that eNewsDesk has reported this issue in October, 2016. Subsequently, this had become a major political issue before the elections since the video film made by Kher’s company allegedly glorified the then CM Harish Rawat instead of promoting tourism for which the film was meant. Another major cause of controversy was the Congress Government’s decision to make payment to Kher’s company from disaster relief funds of District Rudraprayag. Disaster Relief funds are considered sacrosanct and are meant to be used exclusively for disaster relief works.
Bhatt claimed that had this not come into his notice, payment of Rs 1.5 crores would have been made to Kher from disaster relief funds which would become a major source of embarrassment for the BJP. He blamed certain officers of the government for not taking CM into confidence while seeking his approval for the payment.
Bhatt added that this government would also have to pay for the sins of the previous government and still make the payment to Kher since there was an agreement between the Kher’s company and the then Government of Uttarakhand. Because of this commitment, the BJP Government would also have to make payment but would not do so from disaster relief funds. It may be recalled that the initial payments were made to the company by the previous government led by Harish Rawat out of disaster relief funds, but the BJP had protested strongly saying it was a misappropriation of funds meant for reconstruction and rehabilitation work.