RTI reply - Army spent nearly Rs. one crore on publication on northeast
In response to an application filed under the RTI Act, it has been revealed the Indian Army spent Rs. 93.15 lakhs on a three-volume pictorial publication on the Northeast published last year. It is amongst the highest amount spent on a publication project by army, if not the highest. Further, the Army spent approximately Rs 50,000 on each of the six functions held to release the book, while Kunal Verma, the author, was paid approximately Rs. 25,000 to attend each of them.
General V K Singh had attended three of these functions, including on January 15 in New Delhi on Army Day and in Kolkata on May 19.The Army has informed to the RTI applicant that the volumes have been published under arrangements of the Indian Army to promote the North-eastern region.
Kunal Verma, the co-author of the publication, is the son of Maj Gen (retd) A K Verma and has claimed that he worked on the publication along with his wife Dipthi Bhalla for almost three years. Maj Gen (retd) A K Verma, retired Navy Chief L Ramdas, former IAS officer M G Devasahayam and four others had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against Bikram Singh’s appointment.
While the phase one has been achieved with the publication, the “Phase Two” of the project has been put on cold storage after General V.K. Singh demitted office on 31st May 2012 and General Bikram Singh took over. Phase Two involved translation of the publication into major vernacular languages and distribution of 10,000 sets sets for each state throughout the country at an estimated cost Rs. 30 crore. “Phase Three” was conceived which included an exposition and exhibition on the Northeast in several cities and a few foreign countries.
There have been media reports that the Ministry of Defence is examining the money spent on the publication which is under “scrutiny”. It has also been suspected that the funds came from the “perception management” funds of Military Intelligence.