The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has sent a notice to the Press Trust of India asking them to pay dues worth Rs.84.48 crore. The department has accused the news agency of violating the terms of the lease agreement under which they got the land for the office on Sansad Marg, New Delhi.
Land & Development Office of @MoHUA_India issues demand notice to @PTI_News for temporary regularisation of ‘breaches’.— Siddharth Zarabi (@szarabi) July 12, 2020
•July 7 notice asks PTI to pay Rs 84.48 Cr penalty in 30 days to regularise violations of by-laws at its Parliament Street, New Delhi based HQ building.
The Land and Development office, which comes under the ministry, sent the notice to PTI on 7th July. The news agency has been asked to clear the dues within a month, failing to which 10% per annum interest will be applied on the pending amount.
Misuse of the building and illegal construction
The govt has sought Rs.84,48,23,281 for the delays and misuse of the building. It was mentioned that PTI has to regularise the breaches in the premises temporarily up to 14 July 2020. In case PTI fails to follow the conditions specified in the notice within 30 days from the date of issue of the letter, the department will withdraw the right of re-entry of the premises. The pending rent payments run back to as far as 1984.
The notice also says that illegal construction work has been carried out on the premises.
The notice also asked the news agency to give an undertaking on non-judicial stamp paper on which PTI has to state that it will pay the difference of “misuse and damage charges” if the government revise the rates with effect from 01 April 2016. The notice said, “Further action to execute the lease deed shall be subject to complete payment and putting the premises to use as per permissible under the master plan.”
Prasar Bharti threatens to cancel subscription
Just two weeks ago, national broadcaster Prasar Bharati had accused PTI of publishing an interview of the Chinese ambassador amidst the ongoing border standoff with China, which was used by the Chinese media to paint India in a bad light. Threatening the news agency to cancel the subscription, Prasar Bharati officials said that such anti-national news coverage makes it difficult to continue the relationship with the agency that the two have shared for decades.
Under the ministry of information and broadcasting, the state broadcaster comprises Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio. It pays an annual subscription fee of Rs.9.5 crore to PTI.