Amid farm crisis, Fadnavis funds Thai dance trip

Amid farm crisis, Fadnavis funds Thai dance trip
MUMBAI: The profound and morose farm crisis in Maharashtra and the plague of drought that has led to the wretched state of farmers may not have caught the fancy of the chief minister. But a dancing competition in Bangkok, Thailand, had the head of the state open his purse to fund the trip.

An RTI filed by activist Anil Galgali found that the chief minister approved Rs 8 lakh for a government employee dance troupe that participated in a competition in Bangkok. CM Devendra Fadnavis sanctioned the sum that was transferred to Sachivalaya Gymkhana for the dance contest.

Registered in 1967 with the charity commissioner, the CM’s relief fund is to be used only for those affected by natural disasters. Far from the sole objective of the fund, the assistance for the dance match was approved as a special case. Incidentally, farmer’s suicide in the state touched a toll of 660 in 2015.

In his RTI, Galgali sought information from the CM Relief Fund desk about the assistance provided by it to the Sachivalaya Gymkhana. In response, the Public Information officer of the CM Relief Fund desk stated that Rs 8 Lakhs was given from the special fund. The Gymkhana had sought aid to send its 15-member strong team of government employees to enable them to participate in a dance competition in Bangkok from December 26-30.

“The application was sent by the CM to the CM Relief Fund desk with instructions to put up the application as a special case. On August 27, the application was put up before the CM as a special case and Rs 8 lakhs was immediately sanctioned by the CM,” said Galgali The money was transferred to the Sachivalaya Gymkhana’s account on September 11. A week before this aid was handed over, 32 farmers in Marthwada ended their lives after facing crop losses.

It may be noted here that the CM also doubles up as the chairman of the Sachivalaya Gymkhana. The alleged transgression is not a lonely instance of unscrupulousness when it comes to the relief fund. Its workings have been a disaster: in 2008, former CIC Shailesh Gandhi had revealed through RTI that public money collected between 2003 and 2005 went to the organizers of a kabaddi competition, a women’s football match, a ghazal contest, a Marathi actor’s fan club and a Congress MLA’s religious congregation.

The dance troupe is slated to participate in the competition being held at Akshara theatre and is being organized by private entities like Akhil Bhartiya Sanskrutik Sangh and the Global Council of Art and Culture. Each of dance artiste has received a sanction of Rs 50,000 and an additional sum of Rs 50,000 has been granted to cover other miscellaneous expenses during the trip taking the overall total to Rs 8 Lakhs.

Galgali said this sanction amounts to misuse of the Relief Fund and it is sad that the CM is unaware of the rules guiding the Fund. “The CM should get the funds back from the Gymkhana and distribute it to only those who are in acute need for the assistance,” added he.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said was not available for comment. However, senior officials said that the CM’s relief fund is a discretionary fund and can be disbursed to people in dire need or distress.

“The disbursement out of the fund is made at the discretion of the Chief Minister, and in accordance with the Chief Ministers directions”, said the official.

The dance troop had won a national level competition before going for the competition in Bangkok and so the CM thought that this troop must be encouraged to showcase Indian talent in a foreign land.

The group had approached the CM through the Mantralaya Gymkhana and had asked for financial assistance to attend the competition. After seeing merit in the case the funds were sanctioned.

5th Cultural Olympiad of Performing Arts 2015 is being held in Bangkok-Thailand by ABSS’s Global Council of Art and Culture.

The grand event of performing arts will be held in “Aksra Theater” in Bangkok City.

This Olympiad will be held in different age categories and different styles viz. Repertory,Ethnic and Freestyle in Vocal,Instrumental and Dance Category. Also there is Multilinguial Monoact and Short Play category.

From this year along with Solo and Group type Duet and Trio categories are also included for the International Competitions.. The age categories are minor,junior,senior and open.

The competition will be held between 26th to 30th December 2015.

Top three artists from each styles will be awarded with Gold,Silver,Bronze Medals and Merit Certificate.