July 24 is celebrated as the annual Income Tax Day. The day was first celebrated in 2010 to mark 150 years of existence of income tax. In 2010, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a function in the national capital, officers were awarded and the formal logo of income tax department was adopted. In 2019, to mark 159th Income Tax Day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur will attend an event in New Delhi. All regional offices of the department will mark the day by honouring those who file the tax diligently.
Talking about tax money in India, there are times when the hard-earned money of taxpayers were misused. On the occasion of Income Tax Day, we list 6 such instances.
Rs 90,000 crore on Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train
Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor is a high-speed rail line that will connect Ahmedabad, Gujarat and Mumbai. The cost of the project, scheduled to be completed by December 2023, is Rs 1.1 lakh crore. Former Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge terms the project as not economically viable. In a report published by The Indian Express on September 15, 2017, Kharge was quoted saying, “It (the project) is not economically viable.” He further adds, “The airfare between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is around Rs 2,000. And it takes only 70 minutes. Your fare (for the train) would be between Rs 2,800 and Rs 5,000… so it will be profitable only if at least 1 lakh people travel by bullet train…. Otherwise it will incur losses.”
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s upcoming statue in the Arabian sea off Mumbai coast will cost the Maharashtra exchequer Rs 3643.78 crore and construction of all aspects of the project will be over by 2022-23.
Coal Scam or Coalgate in 2012 was a major political scam that revealed that the governing body has allocated 216 coal blocks illegally. Rs 1.86 lakh crore was the amount misused. In a draft report issued in 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) office accused the government of allocating coal blocks in an inefficient manner between 2004 and 2009.
Haryana Government spent Rs 3.8 lakh on 10 copies of Bhagavad Gita
In January 2018, an RTI reply has revealed that the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government has spent Rs 3.8 lakh on 10 copies of Bhagavad Gita. These copies were bought for a hefty amount of Rs 38,000 each for gifting purpose during the International Gita Mahotsav 2017.
Commonwealth Games Scam
The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi received widespread criticism not just in India but internationally. Despite India’s economic condition, millions of dollars were spent on the sporting event. It was reported that over Rs 70,000 crore were allotted for the event and only half of the amount was spent on Indian sportsmen. To add to the embarrassment was the shabby apartments allotted to the athletes. Suresh Kalmadi, the Chairman of the organising committee of the Games, offered the contract for the timing equipment to a Swiss company for Rs 141 crore which was far more than the actual cost. Kalmadi and the other members were later charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery for purpose of cheating. The economic disruption caused by the event is noteworthy.
The Fodder Scam was a corruption scandal in 1996 by the Animal Husbandry Department that involved a misuse of Rs 9.4 billion from the government treasury of Bihar. The then Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav and former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra were arrested in the case. The government funds were misused by producing fake bills to payments that were never made. The funds were meant for the purchase of fodder, medicines and animal farming equipment.