In a startling revelation, investigative journalist Alok Sharma, operating under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has unearthed a massive misallocation of taxpayer funds for advertisements. Documents obtained through RTI inquiries have exposed a troubling pattern of funds being disbursed to numerous channels that neither broadcast nor have distribution in Uttarakhand, raising serious questions about the allocation of public resources.
One glaring example of this misuse is Swadesh News, a purported television channel listed in documents provided by the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR). The documents indicated that Swadesh News was slated to air on Free Dish at 115, Dish TV at 4079, and Videocon at 4087. However, upon close investigation, it became evident that this channel had no presence on any television platform in Uttarakhand and was limited to social media platforms.
The most astonishing revelation came when it was discovered that Swadesh News was allegedly operating out of a motor repair garage located in Dehradun, with Avnish Kumar Jain from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, serving as the bureau chief under the name of Balaji Motors. Such an arrangement raises serious questions about how a satellite channel could operate from a motor vehicle repair center.
Alok Sharma’s courageous reporting on this issue has not been without its challenges. He has faced threats and offers of bribes as he brings this issue into the public eye. This incident has highlighted the extent to which dubious channels have received significant sums of taxpayer money for advertisements that were never actually aired on television.
Several other questionable channels, such as Ind24, Jan TV, Jantantra TV, Anaadi, Aryan TV, Newshour, Janta TV, Swaraj Express, VIP News, ANB, MKN, JK24x7, Chardikla Time TV, DNN, Raftar, Gulistian News, and many more, have also allegedly received multi-crore allocations from taxpayer funds.
Adding to the suspicion is the apparent lack of oversight by monitoring agencies tasked with verifying telecast reports and monitoring the content of these channels. The distribution of taxpayer funds to channels with questionable existence has raised concerns about the efficacy of such oversight mechanisms.
Alok Sharma has taken this matter directly to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and the Director-General of DIPR, Bansi Dhar Tewari. Both have assured a high-level investigation and strict legal action against those involved. There are concerns that certain high-ranking bureaucrats and IPS officers associated with Swadesh News may attempt to influence the investigation if it is conducted by local police or any regional committee.
The citizens of Uttarakhand deserve transparency and accountability in the allocation of taxpayer funds, and this revelation underscores the need for a thorough investigation into the allocation of funds for advertising on these alleged channels. Alok Sharma’s dedication to uncovering the truth in the face of adversity serves as an example of fearless journalism in the pursuit of justice.