Maharashtra probes Siddhivinayak trust ‘irregularities’ | India News


NAGPUR: Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on Friday announced a probe into alleged irregularities in the running of the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust (SSGT) and said a report will be submitted in one month.
He made the announcement in the legislative assembly while replying to a calling attention motion by Shinde faction MLA from Mahim, Sada Sarvankar. The inquiry is said to be significant as the trust is headed by Aadesh Bandekar, an actor and acolyte of Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray. Bandekar had been given the status of junior minister by the Fadnavis regime in 2018.
Sarvankar alleged that the temple trust had bought 15,000-16,000 litres of ghee from an Uttar Pradesh -based company in March 2020 and it was sold by trustees during the pandemic-induced lockdown, when the temple was shut. He also alleged that soon after temples opened in 2021, the temple trust gave a contract to a software company linked to its trustees for setting up its QR code-based temple visit system.
“This work usually costs around Rs 40-50 lakh, but a contract worth Rs 3.5 crore was given for developing and operating the QR code (system). This is nothing but corruption and mismanagement. There are also many irregularities in the reconstruction and repair works of the temple. So a detailed probe is required,” Sarvankar alleged.
“The allegations are serious. An inquiry will be conducted. The temple trust is regulated by the charity commissioner and not by the state government directly. So once the report is submitted, action will be taken based on the irregularities found,” Fadnavis told the assembly.
The Siddhivinayak temple falls in Sarvankar’s assembly constituency and is one of the richest temple trusts in the state. In 2020, the trust’s Rs 10 crore contribution to the state government and ‘Shiv Bhojan‘ was challenged in the Bombay high court. A PIL was filed calling the transfer of the amount illegal.
The Siddhivinayak temple trust had announced a contribution of Rs 5 crore for the Maharashtra government’s Rs 10 ‘Shiv Bhojan’ thali scheme and Rs 5 crore for chief minister’s relief fund when MVA was in office.


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