By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: An RTI finding states that the majority of Cabinet Ministers including Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma are claiming house rent despite staying in their own homes.
As per the RTI documents received from the General Administration Department (GAD), it was found that Dr Sangma along with other Cabinet Ministers were claiming house rent of Rs 20,000 per month.
The RTI information that was sought from the GAD was on the house rent of the Cabinet Ministers during the period April 2008 up to May 2011.
Apart from Dr Mukul Sangma, the other Ministers who are claiming house rent are Deputy Chief Minister Rowell Lyngdoh who stays in his own house at Lumpynnggad and Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh who also stays at her own house at Laitumkhrah.
Meanwhile, the names of Secretariat Administration Department (SAD) Minister JA Lyngdoh who stays in his own house at Jaiaw Laitdom and GAD Minister AL Hek who resides in his in-laws house at Mawpun, Golflinks also featured in the list of Cabinet Ministers who have claimed house rent.
Interestingly, Chief Political Adviser to the Chief Minister Friday Lyngdoh who stays in his own house at Mawkhar and Political Adviser Sayeedullah Nongrum who lives in his own bungalow at Oxford Hills (both who have been given the Cabinet Minister status) are also among those who have claimed house rent.
Only Transport Minister AT Mondal is staying in a rented house at Laitumkhrah. In that sense the claim of Mondal for house rent is justified.
Official sources said the Chief Minister and his Cabinet Ministers are legally entitled to claim house rent since they are supposed to be provided with official quarters.
“Owing to shortage of official quarters, they have been staying in their own homes,” official sources told a section of the press on Monday.
Even though the Cabinet Ministers are legally entitled to the house rent, official sources however believe that it is morally wrong on their part to claim the house rent since they are not staying in rented accommodation.
“If they are staying in a rented house, it is a different case altogether,” official sources said while adding that in a State like Meghalaya which is having a huge financial crisis, the Chief Minister and his other Cabinet Ministers should not have claimed this house rent.
Education Minister Dr RC Laloo and Forest and Environment Minister, Prestone Tynsong are the rare exceptions among the present Cabinet Ministers who have not claimed the house rent despite staying in their own homes, although Dr Laloo has moved into his official quarters.
Among the previous Cabinet Ministers, KHNAM president Paul Lyngdoh is one of those who stayed in his own house and has not claimed house rent.