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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Of Jharkhand's 82 MLAs, 44 have beacon light vehicles
May 15, 2007 - 9:05:31 AM
The chairpersons of boards and corporations are also entitled to beacon lights. There are 32 such boards and corporations in the state.

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[RxPG] Ranchi, May 15 - Over 50 percent of Jharkhand's legislators enjoy vehicles with beacon lights - quite contrary to the spirit of a law that restricts the number of ministers in states to 15 percent of the assembly strength in order to curb official expenditure.

Possessing vehicles fitted with beacon lights usually ensures VIP treatment as these vehicles are virtually accorded first right of passage and seldom stopped for police checks or towed away from no parking zones.

In the 82-member Jharkhand assembly, as many as 44 MLAs have access to beacon light vehicles. What's more, it's not just ministers who enjoy the facility, for even other MLAs of the ruling alliance and those of opposition parties have access to it.

While a law is in place to restrict the size of the council of ministers in various states to 15 percent of assembly strength, it has hardly helped in cutting down expenditure in Jharkhand.

According to the law, only 12 ministers, including the chief minister, are permissible in Jharkhand and logically, they can keep vehicles with beacon lights besides the speaker.

But in Jharkhand, assembly committee chairpersons are also allowed to keep vehicles with beacon lights. And Speaker Aalamgir Aalam has created 31 assembly committees, thus elevating 31 legislators to the post of chairperson.

The chairperson of each committee is entitled to keep one personal secretary, one office with a computer and other facilities - never mind if the state government hardly ever accepts the recommendations of these committees.

Here's an example. Meinheart, a company, was entrusted with the task of preparing a Detailed Project Report - for the drainage and sewerage system of Ranchi.

It was given Rs.210 million for the DPR - something a legislator objected to as financial mismanagement. Soon an assembly committee was constituted that nailed officials and then urban development minister Raghubar Das. But present Urban Development Minister Harinarayan Rai has rejected the committee recommendation.

'If the government does not accept the recommendation of the committee, it lowers the dignity of the assembly,' said Sukhdeo Bhagat, a member of the committee.

The chairpersons of boards and corporations are also entitled to beacon lights. There are 32 such boards and corporations in the state.

The irony is while such VIP facilities are increasing along with the cost to the exchequer, the number of families living Below the Poverty Line - has increased by 100,000 in the last six years after the state's formation.

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