Eknath Shinde With Devendra Fadnavis (File image)
Photo : PTI
The Planning Department of Maharashtra
Government had issued a Government Resolution (GR) allotting a new office space of 7,920 sq ft for the office of MITRA
at a private high rise building at the cost of Rs 21,38,400 per month or nearly around 2.5 crores annually. Opposition in the State has criticized this decision claiming that additional expenditure should have been avoided as Maharashtra's budget is already under deficit. Instead required arrangements should have been done in a Government building. They allege it is yet another new scheme of the Mahayuti government to siphon money from the exchequer.
As per the GR issued, "MITRA was allotted space on the 18th floor of New Administrative Building in front of Mantralay in South Mumbai measuring around 1200 sq ft. Officials said the space is becoming insufficient to carry out their work and there is requirement for a bigger space instead. A new space of 7,920 sq ft is being made available for the office of MITRA as per the demand of the officials. The government has given administrative approval to the office of MITRA to lease an area of about 7920 sq ft at Nirmal Bhawan, 5th floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai from ECGC Limited. For the said place, the PWD has certified that a rent of Rs 21,38,400 to be paid."
Shinde Fadnavis Government last year in the month of November formed Maharashtra Institution of Transformation (MITRA) on the lines of NITI Ayog. MITRA is playing a crucial role of state’s think tank for comprehensive data analysis and to make studied decisions on various sectors. CM Eknath Shinde is the Chairman of MITRA whereas as there are two Vice Chairman, Ajay Ashar (private developer, considered close to CM Shinde) and Rajesh Kshirsagar (MLA from Kolhapur). Senior Bureaucrat, Praveen Pardeshi is the CEO of MITRA.
Making a direct attack on CM Eknath Shinde, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly posted on 'X', "For the new office of the Chief Minister's friend, the state government will pay as much as 21 lakh rupees per month, i.e. 2 crore 56 lakh rupees per year, which is a waste of government money. The Chief Minister has placed the name of his friend on the MITRA organization and now it has been decided to provide him office by paying crores of rupees from the government treasury. This is yet another new scheme of the Mahayuti government to siphon money from the exchequer."
Adding to the criticism of shifting MITRA to a new and private office space, Ambadas Danve of Sena (UBT) and Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council said that it is necessary to have a government office in a government building. What is the point in spending lakhs of rupees on a private building, especially when Maharashtra's budget is in deficit.
Defending the Government's decision to shift MITRA at a new and private office space, Cabinet Minister Deepak Kesarkar said, "The old office space for MITRA was insufficient and was causing difficulty to carry out operations. Also, there is less space in the new administrative building and MITRA’s aim is to take Maharashtra's economy to one trillion. It is natural for a state like Maharashtra, which has a big economy compared to other states, to constantly need a committee like MITRA, but the expenditure incurred on it is equally important."