Minister for Environment and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar's claim of the Aam-Aadmi Party (AAP) led Delhi government spending ₹1,500 crores on publicity and advertising is false, show data from the Delhi budget. Actual and budgeted figures for financial year (FY) 2015 - 2016, when AAP came to power, through 2019 - 2020 shows that this amount is less than half the claimed figure.
Javadekar's statement was with reference to the ongoing health emergency in the capital caused by hazardous air quality. The environment minister said that instead of spending ₹1,500 crores on publicity and advertising, the amount could have been given to farmers of Haryana and Punjab, and towards buying machines for them.
Delhi blames the states of Punjab and Haryana for its pollution woes, for it is in these states that farmers burn crop stubble to make way for a new crop season. In turn, the fumes and particles from these burnings engulf the capital. Last week, 46% of air pollution in Delhi was attributed to stubble burning by India's air pollution regulator - SAFAR.
Javadekar made these remarks on November 2, at a press conference pertaining to the 50th International Film Festival India, which will be held in Goa from November 20 to 28. The festival is associated with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a portfolio also held by Javadekar.
His exact statement can be heard below.
|Original statement (Hindi)||English translation|
|1,500 करोड़ रूपए इश्तेहारों में खर्चा करने कि बजाए अगर दिल्ली सरकार दिल्ली का प्रदुषण कम होने [करने] के लिए पंजाब और हरियाणा के किसानों को 1,500 करोड़ रूपए देती है और मशीन अगर देती है तो वो ज़्यादा काम कि चीज है, दोषारोपण से प्रदुषण कम नहीं होगा, काम करने से होगा और सबको मिलकर इसपर काम करना पड़ेगा |||Instead of spending ₹1,500 crores on advertisements, if the Government of Delhi spent the ₹1,500 crores on the farmers of Haryana and Punjab and gave them machines, it would have been more useful. Blaming each other will not reduce pollution, making an effort will reduce pollution and everyone will have to put it an effort together.|
BOOM looked at Delhi's budget since AAP assumed office in 2015. This is being done since Javadekar makes no mention of any time frame or period over which the Government of Delhi may have undertaken the ₹1,500 crore expenditure. The first budget by the AAP government for FY 2015 - 2016 was presented by Manish Sisodia, who holds the finance portfolio of Delhi, in June 2015.
The figures in all budgets can be seen below.
Based on the actuals, the Delhi government has spent ₹279,30,46,000 (₹279 crores) (₹85.92 crores + ₹71.15 crores + ₹122.23 crores) on advertising from 2015 - 2016 to 2017 - 2018.
The government has further accounted for around ₹413 crores (₹105.98 crores + ₹307.49 crores) in the budgets of 2018 - 2019 and 2019 - 2020.
Taking into account the budgeted figures for the current and previous financial year, and the incurred actuals, the expenditure accounts to more than ₹692 crores (₹279 crores + ₹413 crores), less than half of ₹1,500 crore figure claimed by Javadekar. The actuals for the latest two financial years will be available in subsequent budgets.
All of the government of Delhi's financial documents can be found here, and screenshots of source of these figures from the Delhi budget are available here. BOOM has further reached out to AAP spokespersons for more information on advertising expenditure undertaken by the party, and will update this story on hearing from them.
The Government of Delhi publicizes its programmes, policies and activities through the Directorate of Information and Publicity, a department within the government.
Retorting to Javadekar's claim of the Government of Delhi spending ₹1,500 crore on advertising, Delhi's Chief Minister, Arvind Kerjriwal, has said that his government has only spent ₹40 crore in the current financial year. He claims that the government did so for spreading awareness around dengue.
His remarks can be seen below.
AAP has previously run into trouble due to its scale of advertising.
While the AAP-led government's spending on publicity has been four times the spending of the Congress when it was in power before them, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India pulled up the party for spending ₹29 crores of public funds for advertisements outside Delhi in 2015. The report also said that the advertisements violated Supreme Court guidelines on the political neutrality of such publicity.
In 2017, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Bajpai asked the party to cough up ₹97 crores after a three-member panel appointed by the central government found the Delhi government's advertisements to be in violation of the said guidelines. AAP refused to pay, putting it at loggerheads with Bajpai.