- 32 additional district collectors received one Kia Carnival car each.
- The luxury cars cost an estimated Rs 25-30 lakh each.
- Opposition BJP and Congress have opposed the move.
Thirty-two Additional District Collectors of Telangana are in for a pandemic-time bonanza. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has bought them 32 Kia Carnival cars, each costing an estimated Rs 25-30 lakh. This at a time when the state is reeling under a debt of around Rs 40,000 crore, besides battling the debilitating Covid pandemic, opposition leaders have alleged.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao inspected the vehicles after which the cars were flagged off on Sunday by Telangana Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar in the presence of the state Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and other officials at Pragati Bhavan, the Chief Minister's residence in Hyderabad.
The BJP has called the move "criminal splurge" by Chief Minister Rao to "appease bureaucrats" in the state.
"How can Chief Minister Rao justify spending over 11 crores to buy 32 ultra-luxury vehicles?" party spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao asked.
"He is indulging in this massive wastage of public money in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, while many poor people are dying of debt burden due to COVID-19 hospitalisation. This decision...is horrendous and unthinkable."
His party has demanded an immediate roll back of the decision.
The Congress's D Sravan Kumar, on the other hand, called out the "audacity" of the move.
"As such KCR (Chief Minister Rao) has pushed the surplus state of Telangana into a debt trap state with a whopping debt of Rs 4,00,00,00,00,000. They already have government cars in good condition," he said.
The Congress spokesperson alleged that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government, instead of spending on ramping up the number of beds in government hospitals or buying buses for public transport was misusing public money by buying cars for bureaucrats.
Finance Minister Harish Rao had recently stated that Telangana had lost massive revenue of upto Rs 4500 crore due to the COVID-19 lockdown, seeking to increase the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management limit from 4 to 5 per cent to raise more loans.
Justifying the purchase of luxury cars, the Chief Minister said the additional collectors need such vehicles to tour the entire district and discharge their duties.
In 2015, Toyota Fortuners were given to district collectors. At that time there were only 10 districts in Telangana, he added.