Mumbai: Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis has appointed eight external aides — as officers on special duty (OSDs) in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), an RTI query has revealed. What is shocking is the fact that the Governor Of Maharashtra, the chief secretary, additional chief secretary, principal secretary and Fadnavis himself earn less than some of the OSDs. In the history of state, there has never been any instance of an OSD earning more than his boss, said a General Administration Department (GAD) senior official.
An RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali has revealed that the CMO spends Rs 7.7 lakh monthly to pay these OSDs — whose performance Galgali feels must be evaluated considering the salaries paid. The reply to RTI activist Galgali, furnished by undersecretary, state GAD, revealed that eight OSDs — who were externally appointed by Fadnavis — are collectively drawing Rs 7,69,108 per month (including salaries and perks). Seven of these staffers are being paid an additional lump sum amount of Rs 15,000 per month, the reply further said. As a point of comparison, under the previous Congress-NCP government, 19 OSDs were paid a salary ranging between Rs 30,000 and Rs 35,000.
Firstpost discovered that the wages of MLAs, MoS's, cabinet ministers, the chief minister, the chief secretary, municipal commissioner are nearly half that of the sum paid out to the CMO's OSD. An interesting discovery was the fact that cabinet ministers and the chief minister received almost the same monthly salary of Rs 57,000 per month. This excludes the HRA, said the GAD senior official.
The chief minister's basic salary is Rs 10,000, telephone expenses are Rs 12,000, travel allowance is Rs 20,000 and the daily meeting allowance is Rs 500 (around Rs 15,000 per month). Meanwhile, those holding an MoS profile receive monthly remuneration worth Rs 56,200 (around Rs 800 less than the chief minister), while MLAs receive a monthly salary of Rs 70,000. The table below provides a clearer picture:
In addition, all OSDs receive a vehicle from the government and accomodation in the South Mumbai area.
However, according to the CMO, these OSDs are doing important work. "All these officers have contributed immensely in various projects and flagship programmes of the government, and the chief minister monitors their performances personally," the CMO stated in a response to the RTI filed by Galgali. It mentioned that governance programmes, such as Aaple Sarkar, Right to Services Act and War Room that led to "good and speedy governance" were handled by these OSDs.
"The state is also using modern communication platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. These candidates are handling it for the government to make the state schemes and decisions reach out to people. The OSDs have played an important role in the recent Make In India Week."
The CMO clarified that the decision about the salaries of OSDs had been taken as per the government resolution issued on 10 December, 2010 by the previous government and was being followed. Speaking to Firstpost, chief spokesperson for the Congress Sachin Sawant launched a stinging attack on the Fadnavis government saying that OSDs were getting more than the CM and CS, and questioned why the government needed any IAS officers in the CMO. He also claimed that in the name of good governance, the government was doing illegal things and putting important data in the hands of these OSDs.
Finally, he alleged that of the eight OSDs, four were RSS members from Nagpur — Fadnavis' hometown.