Employees of Maharashtra Information Centre in Delhi allegedly posed as journalists to be part of an eight-day press tour
This is just another form of corruption. In the name of media tour for scribes, Maharashtra Information Centre in Delhi allegedly included some of its own employees and sent them to visit various districts of Maharashtra. The tour was held in the last week of March, four months after Prithviraj Chavan became Chief Minister.
Free lunch: The invitees at a meeting with Chavan (centre). Pic/Mid Day
The invitees also had lunch with the CM in Mumbai. Staffs of Maharashtra Information Centre also joined the group posing as working journalists with different media houses. MiD DAY investigation reveals that Priyanka Gautam, D Deshmukh, Zareena Ali and S Rajendra, who were part of the tour, have been shown working for Hindustan Samachar, The Hindu, NCR Samachar and Web Varta respectively. According to sources, Priyanka Gautam, D Deshmukh and S Rajendra work at Maharashtra Information Centre. "For creating confusion, they made some changes in the name. For example, Rajendra Sawant is shown as S Rajendra. Deepak Deshmukh is shown as D Deshmukh. Both are staffs at Maharashtra information Centre," said a source.
In fact, Pune-based RTI activist Hemant Patil has also complained about the issue to the Governor of Maharashtra. Patil had filed an RTI to seek the information about the tour along with the list of visiting journalists. "They didn't provide full details. Out of 20, they revealed names of only 14 invitees," Patil told MiD DAY. He also added that Web Varta and NCR Samachar have given in writing that no such persons work as journalists with them. Copies of the documents are also available with MiD DAY.
The RTI reply also mentions that two lakh rupees were spent in travelling from Delhi to Maharashtra, stay and food for the invitees. Patil has also filed RTI pleas with Indian Railways and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) seeking their records pertaining to the matter. Interestingly, some of the journalists, who had to go in the tour, decided to stay back after observing that many names on the list were unknowns.
Patil said that the tour programme in the name of journalists was carried out to create an opportunity to oblige others.
Rs 2 lakh
Were reportedly spent in travel from Delhi to Maharashtra, food and lodging of the invitees