An RTI query has revealed that the UP government is owed huge amounts of money in rent by journalists who have been staying in government allocated houses. Opindia has obtained the detailed RTI reply by the UP Rajya Sampatti Nideshalaya made to a person named Ashok Kumar Navratna. Mr Navratna, in his RTI query, had asked the state department about the list of journalists who have pending rent for staying in government allocated houses in Lucknow.
In its reply, the state department has provided a list of 236 such houses in colonies maintained by the department and the names of the journalists staying in them. The reply shows that the journalists owe a huge sum of money to the government of UP. Several journalists have rent amount of more than four lakh pending that they are yet to pay.
Several of these journalists are from reputed media outlets. There are names from Sahara group, Hindustan Times, Pioneer and Times group in the list. Over 50 journalists have unpaid rents in several lakh rupees.
According to the list provided, the highest amount is owed by one Abhishek Bajpai of The Pioneer. A basic search shows that he now works for the Press Trust of India. Mr Bajpai owes the UP government a whopping Rs 7lakh 81 thousand in rent. The next highest amount is owed by one Alok Awasthi of Sahara TV. Mr Awasthi, according to the RTI reply, owes Rs 6,87,495 in rent to the UP exchequer.
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We spoke to Mr Navratna, who filed the RTI and introduced himself as a journalist. He said “Some are staying illegally and some legally. But if they have so much outstanding, they are staying illegally by default. Also, there are few whose names have not even been submitted to the department”.
The UP government had recently made six former chief ministers of the state vacate their government allocated bungalows after a Supreme Court order. Former CM Akhilesh Yadav was criticised in media and public after his associates ransacked caused extensive damages to the bungalow he was residing in. BSP supremo Mayawati too employed several measures not to let go of the government allocated bungalow she had been occupying. Going by this RTI reply, it is evident that there are hundreds of journalists staying in government dwellings without paying rent for years.