KCR hands out cars worth ₹9.6 crore to bureaucrats
A day after the Telangana government handed out luxury cars, bought for approximately ₹9.6 crore, to 32 additional collectors with an aim to help them “carry out developmental works”, the opposition hit out at the move and accused it of financial profligacy during a pandemic when the state is in high debt.
The vehicles were handed over to the additional collectors after chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao reviewed the developmental works in urban and rural areas at his camp office at Pragati Bhavan in Hyderabad, an official spokesman from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said.
At Sunday’s meeting, KCR said the government will extend all facilities to the additional collectors. “In every district collectorate, additional collectors will be provided a room adjacent to the collector and enjoy the same protocol of the collector,” the chief minister said.
“The vehicles, each costing [the state] around ₹30 lakh, were procured by the Telangana State Road Transport Authority on the instructions of the chief minister. The vehicles will help the additional collectors in extensive tours of the villages as part of their duty,” an official in the transport department familiar with the development, said.
The opposition parties said the chief minister was busy “appeasing” the bureaucrats when the state was reeling under a financial crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic.
All India Congress Committee official spokesman Dasoju Sravan called it an “irresponsible” decision and claimed that the state’s debt had crossed ₹4 lakh crore. “These officials already have... their official cars for the last one year. Where is the need to give them the new cars...in this hour of crisis?” Sravan questioned.
According to the Telangana budget for 2021-22, the total outstanding public debt of the state is ₹2,86,804.64 crore. State transport minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar did not take calls.
Sravan alleged that the state government was struggling to increase the number of beds for treatment of Covid-19 patients in government hospitals, and didn’t have money to buy buses for public transport or even to clear the pending bills of contractors.
The state is under Covid-19 lockdown till June19. At present, the state has 20,461 active cases and recorded 1,862 deaths since March 1 this year.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman K Krishna Sagar Rao said it was a “criminal splurge” of public money. “This decision to buy ultra-luxury vehicles for additional collectors is horrendous and unthinkable in the current public health situation. We feel this money could have been used to expand beds or provide free treatment to the poor,” Rao said.
The Telangana government introduced the post of additional collectors into the bureaucratic structure of the state in February 2020 positioning it as an administrative reform and part of an overhaul of the revenue department. Additional collectors, mostly drawn from Group-I officers, were appointed in each district (except Hyderabad), and were exclusively meant for taking care of developmental projects in rural areas. However, two additional collectors, one each for local bodies and revenue matters, were appointed in 10 districts.
Political analyst Suresh Dharur said KCR’s move was likely to send a wrong message. “It is not that the officials are going to the villages by bicycles. They must be having vehicles. Why should the government spend nearly ₹10 crore on buying them luxury cars at this stage? This is nothing but fiscal irresponsibility,” he said.