The Tribune: Dehradun: Monday, February 27, 2017.
A promotional video for Uttarakhand tourism, showing Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, has got embroiled in a controversy.
A BJP leader and RTI activist, Ajendra Ajay, has accused the Harish Rawat government of paying Rs 47.19 lakh out of disaster relief funds to a firm, in which singer Kailash Kher has a stake, for the tourism video featuring Virat Kohli.
Ajay cited information procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and said Rs 47,19,120 was paid to Kailasa Entertainment Pvt Ltd for a 60-second audio-visual clip in which the cricketer is seen promoting tourist destinations in the state.
“The payment was made in June 2015 out of the funds meant for reconstruction and rehabilitation work in areas devastated by the June 2013 natural disaster,” Ajay said.
Though meant for Kohli, the payment was made through Kailasa Entertainment Pvt Ltd, he claimed. Interestingly, Kailash Kher was also given Rs.6.33 crore for making a television serial on the Kedarnath shrine.
The BJP has blamed Chief Minister Harish Rawat of diverting the funds meant for disaster relief and rehabilitation for a promotional video. Party spokesperson Devender Bhasin asked the Chief Minister the reason for spending the funds meant for relief and rehabilitation. He said the Chief Minister has no right to complain of dearth of funds for which he often held the Centre responsible.
Meanwhile, Harish Rawat said it was the prerogative of the state government to earmark funds. He accused the BJP of being negative and said it was not a crime to engage the Indian cricket captain for the promotion of the Char Dham yatra in the state.
He advised the BJP to file a complaint seeking an inquiry into the “misuse” of the disaster relief funds.