Dev Ashish Bhattacharya: This is a matter of surprise that public money is mercilessly misused in Himachal Pradesh and the people who are responsible to expose this are silent spectators because of their own vested interests. On the one hand the state always remain in hand to mouth situation and keeps on knocking the doors of Planning Commission for the Grants (Beggary) and on the other hand the Cabinet keeps on giving sanction to such expenses which are 100% avoidable.

Look—the cabinet cleared the proposal of purchasing the top most model of Toyota Camry at the drop of hat without giving a thought about the utility and maintainability of the same. All the Ministers were the signatories to the proposal of the purchase of these cars.

The Camry scores low in fuel consumption and the maintenance cost of these cars is also exorbitantly high and ground clearance is Zero, which is essential in the hill state.

Now, the same ministers of the Himachal are getting their cars replaced one by one with the approval of the same Cabinet which has approved these cars few months ago. The reason, sighted by these ministers is, they are not able to move comfortably in their constituencies in these cars (Camrys). One of the ministers has got a brand new Fortunner and another one has got Innova. Incidentally, all these Toyota brand of cars are purchased from one particular dealer (I am told).

Will these ministers ever dare to purchase such cars from their own pocket? Why the officers concerned did not mention to these ministers about the shortcomings/unsuitability of Camry for the Hill State.

It has also been disclosed to me that two Fortunners are purchased for the Pilot fleet of the Chief Minister, whereas, he himself travels in Innova. The Chief Minister narrowly missed to purchase a bullet proof Mercedez for himself.

Ministers travel frequently to Delhi from Himachal in these Camry and waste huge quantity of Petrol and driver expenses. Why they do not travel in Shatabdi Express from Kalka to Delhi and avail the car facilities from Himachal Bhawan, Delhi, where lot of protocol cars are parked with drivers.

One fine early morning the King of Himachal got a dream and realised that the House Rent Allowance of the Advocate General of the state is on the lower side and decided to hike that to —–hold on your breath—–Rs. 50,000/- per month. Unbelievable. The Chief Secretary, High Court Judges and even the Chief Justice of any High Court of our country is not so lucky to get that handsome perk.

The CM has created the biggest ever battery of Deputy and additional Advocate Generals in one of the most small High Courts of the country purely on the Public Money of the poor state–which even sometimes does not have the funds to pay the salary cheques to its employees.

Things do not stop here. The King besides creating a cabinet of 11 Ministers (not even a single with non-cabinet rank) has made 9 Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and made two defeated Congress leaders as Chairpersons with Cabinet rank. It is in total violation of Home Ministry directive which has fixed the number of ministers in any state as per the number of MLAs in that Vidhan Sabha. It was done to reduce the burden on the public exchequer- but the King is King. Why should he listen to Home Minster?

Ironically, when the Cabinet needs to discuss the appointment of Doctors in the state, funds are not available. An important road of the state, Swarghat to Bilaspur, is in the bad shape and no funds to repair it. Roads in the apple growing areas are in bad shape: no funds to repair them. Staff crunch in every department: no funds to have fresh recruitments.

In Himachal Pradesh, if the King wishes, no employee would retire. The King has adopted the method of pick and chooses to benefit the few chosen ones at the cost of the career prospects of other employees and un-employed.

Look at the way the benefits are provided at the cost of public exchequer. 4 senior officers of HPTDC retired and their names are Devinder Sen, K.K Sharma, Ajay Thakur and Arun Sood. Devinder Sen got the extension in service and other three got the re-employments.

The reasons put by three of them are common ones, i.e., their pensions are meager, they have unsettled children, they were the star performers during their service time and they had served the VIPs with great enthusiasm.

File noting obtained through RTI reveals that all the officers blindly wrote the approval notes and not even a line was written by any of the so called brilliant IAS officers which could give the CM some caution of the illegality they have committed.

If we take the cue from these file noting and the further approvals, then, how the same govt. can deny the extension or the re employment to any retired employee on the similar grounds. Pandora’s Box will open.

Did the HPTDC not have competent officers who could manage Himachal Bhawan Chandigarh as well as Devindrer Sen is doing or Himachal Bhawan Delhi as well as Ajay Thakur is doing or marketing office Delhi as well as K.K.Sharma is doing. I am told that K.K.Sharma is managing Himachal Sadan also.

Now the question is that since when these gentle men are in Delhi or Chandigarh. In fact, they have spent better part of their services in these places and none of these so called very efficient officers are posted in any of the loss making units. If they are so brilliant and efficient that they were needed to be re employed in the interest of HPTDC, then, in my opinion, they should have been given the task of reviving all the loss making units. But, intention was different. By raping the public money these persons were given the re employments at the cost of the promotion of few others and further blocked the posts for new appointments.

At the moment, these officers are given one year bonanza, but, the King may dole out further freebies.

Now, very soon, so many retired employees are going to apply for the re employments to the CM on similar grounds. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the CM then.

By the way, these entire not so well to do officers are in fact bestowed with all the happiness, wealth and esteem by the God greed has no limits. Incidentally, Devinder Sen, belongs to the Royal Family of the princely state of Junga and a close blood relation of Pratibha Singh, the M.P. and wife of the C.M. of Himachal Pradesh.

It reminds me that some descendants of Tipu Sultan and Mughals are selling Tea on the roads and they do not get any such favors, just because, their relatives are neither the present day CMs or MPs.

Dynasty of Chamchagiri speaks loudly. Therefore, so many MPs, MLAs and influential persons are in the list of payment defaulters of HPTDC and these efficient and brilliant officers would bask in the sun shine of VIPs whom they please.

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