The Hush Post: According to Reuters, one of the most authentic sources of news information across the globe, the Indian government-led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spent Rs 3.6 million (about $55,000) to buy air purifiers for the PMO and at least six other government departments between 2014 and 2017
Government data reviewed by Reuters reveals that besides PM Modi’s offices inside Parliament, the other agencies availing the luxury of air purifiers included economic planning think tank NITI Aayog and the ministries of health, agriculture, tourism, home affairs and foreign affairs.
“This initiative is like giving gumboots to city officials when the drainage system collapses and the city is covered in muck,” said Oommen C. Kurian, a health researcher at the New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation.
A government spokesman directed questions on the subject to the environment ministry, which did not respond to a request for comment. PM Modi’s office and the six departments for which data was available did not respond to Reuters’ queries.
Contents of the Reuters report:
The Home ministry spent about $20,000 or Rs 13,03,700 in the last three years to buy 44 of the devices, while PM Modi’s parliament house offices accounted for 25 units which cost about Rs 7,16,738 or $11,000, the data showed.
NITI Aayog, which also spent about $11,000 on air purifiers, said the devices were “issued to officers at the level of joint secretary & equivalent and above, as per their requests”, according to a right to information response reviewed by Reuters.
A senior government official familiar with PM Modi’s pollution-control planning said there was no government policy allowing officials to buy air purifiers and such purchases were made only if departments received requests from bureaucrats.
“Ideally, no one should need air purifiers and we’re trying our best to ensure that,” the official said, referring to the government’s attempts to improve air quality in Delhi.
After years of criticism that PM Modi’s government was not doing enough, this year’s budget outlined a scheme for pollution control that will include spending $177 million or Rs 76,266 lakh on reducing crop residue burning, one of the main causes of pollution.
PM Modi’s environment minister last month said pollution was “now linked to our national image.” As pollution choked Delhi in recent years, a total of 140 air purifiers were purchased for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offices and at least six other government agencies, according to previously unpublished government data.
The purchases came as PM Modi faced criticism for not taking effective steps in one of the world’s most polluted cities.
Air purifiers are devices which use filters to reduce indoor air pollutants. Such machines are beyond the means of most people in India, where the annual per capita income was $1,709 or Rs 1,11,401 in 2016, according to the World Bank.