Did An RTI Reveal ₹30 Crores Spent On Modi's Visit To Morbi? A FactCheck
BOOM contacted the Morbi Collector who said his office had not received any such RTI application.
A purported newspaper clipping claiming a Right To Information reply revealed Morbi civic body spent ₹30 crore on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's one day visit to the town after the bridge collapse, is fake.
BOOM found that both the newspaper clipping and supposed RTI reply are fake.
On October 30, 2022, a suspension bridge in Morbi collapse leaving over 130 dead and hundreds more injured. The Gujarat police in a suo moto FIR named, "the agency responsible for maintenance" of the bridge as accused. In a press conference, Inspector General, Rajkot, Ashok Yadav said that the police had arrested nine people including managers employed by a private company Oreva group, ticket sellers and security personnel working at the Morbi suspension bridge.
The screenshot which has been designed to make it look like an e-paper clipping of Gujarat Samachar, a news daily in the state, claims that a Right To Information (RTI) filed with the Morbi collector's office revealed that a total of 30 crore rupees were spent to prepare the town for PM Modi's visit.
The news clipping was shared by a Twitter account which goes by Dax Patel who tweeted the news clippings in a thread with the caption, "An RTI reveals that the Morbi authority spent ₹30 crore for Modi's one-day visit after the bridge collapse"
View tweet here and an archive here
The account in a reply said that the said clipping is from a news story published by Gujarat Samachar.
The same clipping was shared by Saket Gokhale, activist and member of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) who tweeted it with the text, "RTI reveals that Modi's visit to Morbi for a few hours cost ₹30 cr. Of this, ₹ 5.5cr was purely for "welcome, event management, & photography". 135 victims who died got ₹4 lac ex-gratia each i.e. ₹5 cr. Just Modi's event management & PR costs more than life of 135 people."
View tweet here and an archive here
We used Google Lens to translate the news clipping and found that the clipping claims that a total of 30 crores were spent for PM Modi's one day visit to Morbi. The clipping breaks down this amount and claims 8 crores were spent on painting, cleaning and getting news beds for the hospital where casualties were admitted, 11 crores on building new roads in Morbi and 3 crores on miscellaneous government arrangements. The clipping further adds that the police department spent up to 2.5 crores on security arrangements 2 crores for event management and 50 lakh rupees on photography and videography to record PM Modi's visit.
Below is the translation as provided by Google Lens.
BOOM found that the screenshot is fake and no such news story was published by Gujarat Samachar or any other newspaper in the state. We searched with the Gujarati text in the clipping but did not find any evidence that such an article was ever published.
We then contacted the Ahmedabad bureau of Gujarat Samachar where the paper is headquartered.
Mukund Pandya, Chief Reporter of the newspaper's Ahmedabad bureau said they were contacted by the Gujarat police on the evening of December 1, 2022 when the clipping went viral. "The police told us that they had started a suo moto investigation into the clipping and reached out to confirm if we had published such a story," Pandya explained.
Pandya told BOOM that the clipping was fake. "We looked into the clipping and no such article has been published by any edition of Gujarat Samachar. Someone has mischeviously made the clipping and then claimed that it is a story published in our newspaper. That is not true," he said. Pandya further added, "If you look at the screenshot, it does not say Gujarat Samachar anywhere. Also, while the style and layout may be of our paper, the font is different. We have officially replied in writing to the cyber crime cell of Ahmedabad police with these details."
BOOM reached out to the Cyber Cell of Ahmedabad police and an official source confirmed that the an investigation was underway into the clipping. "We have started a suo moto investigation into the clipping and are looking at a Twitter account by the name of Dax Patel which posted the clipping. Gujarat Samachar has replied to us confirming that they did not publish this story and we have also reached out to the Morbi authorities for details," said a senior officer not wishing to be named.
GT Pandya, Collector and District Magistrate, Morbi also confirmed to BOOM that no such RTI was filed to his office. "This is completely fake and fabricated news. The clipping says a Deepak Patel filed an RTI asking for these details but our records show that nobody has filed an RTI requesting to provide details on the cost incurred," GT Pandya said. When asked if the costs mentioned were true, GT Pandya refused to comment.
The fact-checking wing of the Press Information Bureau also called out the clipping as fake in a tweet and said, "Quoting an RTI, It is being claimed in a tweet that PM's visit to Morbi cost ₹30 cr. ▪️ This claim is #Fake. ▪️ No such RTI response has been given."
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