New Delhi, June 27 (): Ministers of NDA are facing a housing problem. MTNL is left holding Rs 6.6 crore unpaid phone bills of ex MPs.
Only 29 ex-ministers have so far complied with the deadline that ended yesterday. The rest of ex-ministers have not made any move to shift out leaving the urban development minister Venkiah Naidu in an uneasy situation as he will have to send eviction notices to the majority of the former 55 ministers of UPA.
Now, Naidu says that he cannot take a tough stance and throw them out; he sees hope only in media glare on the ex-ministers who have dug their heels to do the trick. Now the ministry has extended the deadline by two weeks.
By yesterday, the UD ministry had allotted bungalows to 29 Union ministers – Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Uma Bharti among others.
The other new ministers will have to wait for at least two months before they get to shift to their new official homes. After the ex-ministers move out, the CPWD would take a month to renovate the houses.
Nine ministers in NDA ministry who are already having official houses as they were MPs or holding government positions have informed UD ministry that they do not wish to shift to a new house and will continue to stay in their present government house.
An RTI on phone bills of MPs shows that in 34 years of the Lok Sabha, MTNL, the public sector communication company has to get Rs 6.6 crore from the lawmakers.
Starting from the 7th Lok Sabha (January 1980) to the previous 15th Lok Sabha, 300 ex-MPs have accumulated telephone bills worth Rs. 6.6 crore. This is over and above the yearly free calls limit of 1.5 lakh.
MTNL has now requests from 315 MPs who are new to the house for phone connections. Way back in 1983, then minister of communications V N Gadgil issued an order that phone connections to MPs should not be disconnected without their permission. Since then, no phone has been cut for non-payment of dues. MTNL does write polite letters to ex-MPs and to families of late ex-MPs but no one bothers to reply.