It’s shocking. Huge fund earmarked for mitigating floods in Assam has been diverted to “charter aircraft” for an extended family holiday for senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.
The Brahmaputra Board, in an RTI reply, informed that it paid Rs 31, 48, 326 to charter an aircraft for four days from December 29, 2017 for the visit of union minister of water resources Nitin Gadkari and his family members from New Delhi to Jorhat.
The aircraft flew back the VVIP guests to New Delhi on January 1, 2018. While the total cost to charter the aircraft for four days was Rs 62, 96,652, the Brahmaputra Board shouldered 50 per cent of the expenditure, the remaining amount of Rs 31, 48, 326 was paid by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation.
Gadkari flew from New Delhi in the chartered flight at 7 am on December 29, 2017, and landed in Jorhat at 10 am, and flew to Majuli, the largest river island of the world in a chartered helicopter, the Brahmaputra Board informed.
In Majuli, the union minister laid foundations for the Brahmaputra Board complex, protection of Majuli from flood and erosion and flagged off regular cargo service from Pandu to Dhubri.
Despite falling sick during the foundation stone laying ceremonies in Majuli, Gadkari flew to Kaziranga National Park in the chartered helicopter and checked into a luxury resort along with his family members.
After reviewing the national highway projects of Northeast states on January 29, the union water resources minister and his family members enjoyed colourful cultural programmes at the resort along with senior Assam ministers.
After elephant and jeep safaris in the Kaziranga National Park, Gadkari on December 30, 2017, spent only one hour for work. Between 11 am to 12 noon he attended the ninth meeting of the High-Powered Review Board of the Brahmaputra Board.
As December 31 was a Sunday, the Gadkari family continued to be in total holiday mood. And after celebrating the New Year eve in the luxury resort, the family flew back to New Delhi at 8 am on January 1, 2018 on public money.
While poor people in Assam face the wrath of floods every year, it is shocking as to why the Brahmaputra Board paid to charter an aircraft for Gadkari and his family members.
As per the mandate, the Brahmaputra Board is supposed to carry out survey and investigations in Brahmaputra Valley and to prepare master plan for the control of floods, bank erosion and improvement of drainage.
When contacted, Rajiv Yadav, chairman of Brahmaputra Board, refused to comment on the issue. “I had not joined the Brahmaputra Board in December 2017, and will not be able to comment on the issue,” he said.
Interestingly, there has been no progress with the projects for which foundation stones were laid by Nitin Gadkari in Majuli. Construction for the Brahmaputra Board complex in Majuli is yet to begin.
Similarly, the TK Engineering Consortium Private Limited, which was awarded with the Rs 180 crore anti-erosion projects in Majuli, did not do much work. The Arunachal Pradesh-based company is still not showing any sincerity to complete the project before the arrival of the next monsoon.
Similarly, Nitin Gadkari’s tall claims to dredge the mighty Brahmaputra did not see any actions on ground. While flood control fund was diverted to charter aircrafts for Nitin Gadkari, the fear of flood during monsoon will continue to worry the poor people of Assam.