New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, has cost thrown up an ad bill of nearly Rs 100 crore, according to information revealed through a Right to Information or RTI application.
The government has spent 94 crore only on print, radio and television ads to promote the cleanliness mission that PM Modi launched on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary October 2 last year.
The BJP-led government's bill matches the previous Congress-led UPA's spending on ads to promote its Nirmal Bharat campaign. Yet, the Congress was quick to target the Modi government and draw parallels with Arvind Kejriwal's decision to spend Rs 526 crores on advertisements to showcase the Delhi government's work.
"Yes, we made some ads towards the end of our 10-year term to showcase our work but such money should be used judiciously, rising above party politics. We are always short of resources for some development project or the other. We cannot waste 100 crore on Swachh Bharat ads or be forced to listen to Kejriwal's voice after every song on radio," said Congress leader Ajay Maken, a former Union minister.
The BJP, which has strongly criticised the Kejriwal government's ad budget, defends the Swachh Bharat campaign by arguing that ambitious programs need massive awareness campaigns. "Now people are at least aware that they should not litter. This campaign goes to schools, malls, street vendors, truck drivers and rural areas and creates awareness. It is an important component," said Rajiv Pratap Rudy, skill development minister.
By 2019, the government plans to spend Rs 2 lakh crore to construct nearly 11 crore toilets and cover almost every Indian household.