Maharashtra legislators hike their own salaries

Nagpur, Dec 16 (IANS) Maharashtra legislators Thursday unanimously agreed to hike their salaries, perks and allowances, raising their emoluments to around Rs.72,000 per head per month.

A bill to the effect was passed by a voice vote in the Maharashtra legislative assembly during its sitting on the last day of winter session in this second capital of the state.

The bill would nearly double the legislators’ salaries, and allowances for attending the house, telephone, travel, house sittings and other heads. It will be applicable to 288 MLAs and 78 MLCs.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil moved the resolution in the assembly for an amendment to the 1978 Act which covers salaries and allowance of the speaker, deputy speaker, chairman, deputy chairman, opposition leaders and other members.

The bill said that in view of the overall inflationary trends, hike in fuel prices, postal, stationery charges, increased use of telephone and internet, the government proposes to hike the salary and certain other allowances for the members.

The hike is expected to put an additional financial burden of estimated Rs.16 crore on the government.

Reacting sharply to the development, the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti said that while the state government failed to give food and health subsidies to over a million distressed farming families, the state legislators rewarded themselves with a fat pay hike without any discussion or protests from opposition parties.

‘This comes at a time when the state’s debts have crossed the Rs.2 lakh crore mark. This is nothing but open loot of the public money, and the hike must be withdrawn,’ demanded VJAS president Kishor Tiwari in a statement.

He pointed out that the state is facing an unprecedented economic and agro crisis in view of the heavy and unseasonal rains, which have caused crop damage worth over Rs.25,000 crore.

However, Tiwari lamented that instead of doing anything worthwhile to mitigate the sufferings of millions of farmers, many of whom were committing suicide, the state’s lawmakers hurriedly gave themselves a huge pay hike on the last day of the winter session.