President's power bill: Rs 4 crore a year!
REported by Krishnakumar P in in Rediff New Delhi May 12, 2008 18:31 IST
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has consumed electricity worth more than Rs 16.5 crore in the past five years and the prime minister and his office has consumed power worth Rs 37.26 lakh in the past three years, information gained through the Right to Information Act has shown.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has consumed a total of close to 3 crore units of electricity in five years. The prime minister has consumed 7 lakh units in the past three years.
Replying to a an RTI query by activist Chetan Kothari, the Central Public Works Department replied that all the bills have been paid by the department.
The department said there is no separate meter for the prime minister's residence and the consumption is for both his home and office.
'There is no separate meter for the residence of the prime minister. There is a common meter for the 3, Race Course Road complex comprising of the PM's house, security gazette, security lights, SPG office, MI room, PMO, horticulture pumps, temporary lighting,' the CPWD said.
It also said there is no generator facility exclusively for the prime minister's residence. 'A generator has been installed mainly for providing emergency supply to the security facilities, horticulture pumps, and the PMO,' it said.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan, meanwhile, employs two generators of capacity 310 KVA each, the department said.
Most Indian cities face acute power shortage, especially in the summer. Recently, West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has decided to go without power for two hours everyday in view of the power shortage in Kolkata.
The petitioner Kothari, while praising Gandhi's efforts, said: "Our country is facing a power crisis. It would be great if the people at the very top do something in this regard," he said, adding that he has not yet taken up the issue with the offices of the prime minister or the President.
It has been 16 months since Kothari started using the RTI to obtain information about the state machinery. "I have exposed several government departments both in Mumbai and Delhi. I have so far filed 176 RTI applications in various departments and have obtained information in all case, though appeals are pending in some," Kothari, whose attempt to obtain information about the traveling and medical expenses of all prime ministers and presidents failed. "When I did not get that information, I thought we should know about the power consumption of these two offices at a time when the nation is facing a power crisis," he said.
Kothari, who was a diamond merchant, was ripped off by a company that promised holiday packages and time share in resorts. "I had invested Rs 11 lakh and about 62,000 small investors had contributed a total of Rs 300 crore. They were unable to give back a single pie to the investors.
"I quit my business and began a forum to get back our money. I first used the RTI to expose how the police was hand in glove with the owners of the company. I obtained information to prove that there were about 200 cases and warrants pending against that man," Kothari said.
From then on, Kothari says he has dedicated himself to making public information about various government departments. "I have exposed an RTO scam in issuing duplicate smart card licenses," Kothari, who freelances and offers information to newspapers and television channels, said.
He says he does not take any money for the work he does. "Outside of the photocopy charges and other expenses in obtaining information from the departments, I do not take any money for the work I do. My aim is to provide the public with as much vital information about the government.
And most important motive is to try and ensure that the taxpayers' money is not misused by those in power," he said.