Our elected representatives on Tuesday quietly ensured that they are now entitled to 20 free air trips anywhere in the state.
The state assembly amended the Maharashtra Legislature Member’s Salaries and Allowances Act, permitting increased air travel for Maharashtra’s 366 legislators from 12 single trips to 20 single trips.
The additional flying hours will cost the taxpayer Rs 1.24 crore every year.
The state already funds four free air trips to New Delhi and free two-tier AC train travel in the state.
“This is not right. When a bill is being passed, logic of what and why it is proposed should be discussed in the House. In fact, for increasing their allowances and salaries, the state should put in place a feedback system from the public on the proposed law,” said Vinay Somani of Karmayog, a non-governmental organisation that raises civic issues and speaks for citizens’ rights.
The number of flight trips was increased after legislators made a representation to the government saying they needed to travel more to attend “meetings of the various committees and the affairs of the state legislature”.
The bill was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshawardhan Patil and passed without any discussion amid din created by the Opposition.
While the saffron alliance banged tables, shouted slogans and boycotted proceedings in protest of the plight of farmers in the state, the government cleared seven other bills in a record 35 minutes without any discussion.