City Legislator Is Second; Two Also On Lowest-Earners’ List

Mumbai:

The average annual income of MLAs from Maharashtra, estimated at Rs43-44 lakh, is second only to that of Karnataka’s legislators (Rs111 lakh) in the country, according to a report on income analysis released recently by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

While the annual income of N Nagaraju of Karnataka is the highest across India at Rs157 crore, Maharashtra’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha comes in second with Rs33 crore a year, the analysis has revealed. Lodha, a BJP legislator from Malabar Hill and a leading developer, is ‘salaried’ as per the ADR analysis.

Three other state MLAs figure in the list of the 20 highest-earning legislators: NCP legislator Dilip Sopal from Barshi constituency in Solapur, BJP’s Prashant Thakur from Panvel in Raigad and Congress leader and former CM Prithviraj Chavan from Karad in Satara.

Sopal is the sixth on the list, with an annual income of around Rs9.8 crore. He has been listed as a lawyer as well as an agriculturist. Thakur is the 17th richest MLA whose income of around Rs5.5 crore is supposed to be mostly from heavy machinery that he lends for construction activities and agriculture. And ex-CM Chavan, mentioned as ‘farmer,’ is 20th with an income of Rs4.34 crore. Interestingly, 26 MLAs from Maharashtra have still not filed their income-tax returns, the report suggests.

Two legislators from the state also figure among India’s 20 lowest-earning MLAs. One is social worker and farmer Suresh Khade from Miraj constituency in Sangli and the other is energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule from Kamthi in Nagpur. While Khade’s annual income (from social work and farming) is pegged at around Rs39,000, that of Bawankule is around Rs63,000 (his profession is not listed in the report).

Khade is ninth among the 20 low-earners and Bawankule is the 20th. The 56-year-old BJP MLA Khade has been mentioned as the only breadwinner for the family, while Bawankule’s family members earn Rs9 lakh annually.

The national study suggested that around 771(25%) out of 3,145 MLAs analysed nationally have declared business as their profession, and 758 (24%) have mentioned that they are farmers. And 397(13%) MLAs who have declared their profession to be both agriculture/ farming and business have the highest average annual income of Rs57.81 lakh.

Former IPS officer and social activist Y P Singh demanded scrutiny of legislators’ incomes to check abnormal increases. “In view of serious discrepancies in incomes, it becomes the duty of the state Anti-Corruption Bureau to examine any abnormal increase and if such increases are found, cases of disproportionate assets under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 ought to be registered against MLAs who have enriched themselves during the period they have been MLAs, that is, public servants. Even if a few cases are registered, it would set an example,” he said.

Retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro said politicians and bureaucrats used to be honest and non-corrupt earlier as their individual incomes were the only source of earning. “However, sadly that generation has faded,” he said.

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