Rajkot Collector was also instrumental in obstructing efforts of Gujarat Chief Minister VIjay Rupani
Additional Collector asks Reportor to accept cheque as a Goodwill gesture
Hurried Press Conference called by Rajkot Collector
Gujarat Chief Secretary Anil Mukim has given orders on Sunday 2 February to investigate the distribution of Rs 50,000 cheques to news reporters for covering the 26 january Republic Day event.
The matter came to light after Bhaskar, a leading daily reported the matter. As per the daily, News Reporters from the city of Rajkot in Gujarat were gifted a cheque of Rs 50,000 each as a token for covering the Republic Day event in the city. The cheque bears the signatures of the Colllector and Resident Additional Collector.
As per media reports, Collector of Rajkot called an urgent Press Conference to explain the distribution of this money among the reporters. The Collector said that they have not committed any crime by distributing this money to reporters and it was a token of appreciation. However, the Collector was unable to explain the procedure in light of the rules and regulations. Her answers to the questions raised by reporters were vague and haphazard.
Reporters of Divya Bhaskar, which is an arm of Dainik Bhaskar group, refused to take the cheque under the papers No Paid News Policy. They termed this money as bribe. They said that they had taken the cheque just to report this incident.
The Collector, Remya Mohan, IAS, put forward her argument saying that government funds are expensed out as per rules and regulations based on proper orders and billings. However, this money was received as contributions from the people of the city, hence it was given out outside the government offices. She was unable to present any release order. She explained that one of the developers of the city, Viral Developers, has given them the funds to publicize the Republic Day event. When Divya Bhaskar spoke to Lalit Bhalodiya of Viral Developers and were told that the group donated Rs 4 Lakh for organizing the Republic Day event and not to distribute it to reporters.
Resident Additional Collector, Parimal Pandya, one of the signatories to the cheque, was asked to respond by the reporters. Parimal said that though they had not checked whether the advertisement was displayed or not, the reporter should accept the cheque as a goodwill gesture as the 26 January event was satisfactory.It may be noted that the Rajkot Collector was also in the news for obstructing the anti-corruption drive initiated by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.