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Revenue from Mahalaxmi racecourse will now go to landslide victims

After mid-day reported how Home Minister R R Patil was disbursing tax collected from Mahalaxmi Racecourse to bogus charities run by NCP workers, the ministry has decided to allot the funds to Malin landslide victims

The state government will scrap allotment of revenue collected from horse racing in Mumbai to ‘charity’ organisations and divert it to victims of natural disasters and other calamities. This year’s fund will go to the victims of the Malin landslide.

Investigations had revealed that R R Patil had been disbursing racecourse funds to bogus charities that fudged records to show they did social work, but instead used the money for NCP’s activities in western Maharashtra
Investigations had revealed that R R Patil had been disbursing racecourse funds to bogus charities that fudged records to show they did social work, but instead used the money for NCP’s activities in western Maharashtra

The decision comes following mid-day’s investigation, which revealed that Home Minister RR Patil was misusing his discretionary powers to distribute racecourse funds to phoney public trusts and charity organisations with dubious grassroots credentials.

mid-day’s  front page report on August 4. File pic
mid-day’s  front page report on August 4. File pic

Sources in the home department said a proposal is being prepared to streamline the disbursement of tax collected on horse racing at the Mumbai’s Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), Mahalaxmi.

According to the draft proposal being prepared by the home department, the tightening of screws will ensure money is allotted during natural calamities or tragedies where people have lost their lives in large numbers.

According to sources, this year’s proposals from NGOs seeking funds under the ‘Racecourse nidhi’ stand cancelled; instead, a chunk of money will be allotted to relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of the landslide tragedy in Malin, in Pune district. As many as 151 people had died and nearly as many injured in the natural calamity.

“This year’s government resolution announcing the list of swayamsevi sansthans to have received the racecourse fund is put on hold. A majority of proposals have been cancelled and the money will, instead, be diverted to Malin.

However, some NGOs will be allotted money since the home minister had made a commitment to them last year. But, we will streamline the process completely from next year,” said a senior official in the home ministry.

Approximately Rs 1 crore is available for the allotment every year. Officials said Patil will soon hold a meeting to finalise the details of the new guidelines for allotment of funds, which were allotted by the sports ministry earlier, were but brought under the home ministry’s ambit in the past few years. “Earlier, this fund was allotted to 16 organisations which were repeated year after year, with no draw or selection process in place,” said a senior officer.

In its report on August 4 (‘R R Patil using racecourse tax to fund his PR, NCP activities’), this paper had established that tax collected on wagering in horse racing at Mahalaxmi Racecourse was being frittered away on charity organisations that had been fudging records to claim the donations by putting together a team of bogus trust members, faulty audit reports and half-baked utilisation certificates, showing that the money was used for social purposes. None of the organisations were ever vetted by the state home department because the annual list of grants is directly approved by the home minister himself.

Investigations had established that almost all of the organisations that received funds from the home department in the past three years were either promoted by, or had a direct affiliation with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP); year after year, Patil supported the ‘charities’ with the clear intention of building a cadre base for his party in western Maharashtra and areas of Marathwada, and also as a PR vehicle for himself.

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