On October 26, 5.51 lakh ‘diyas’ were lighted as part of the “Deepotsav” in Ayodhya, an event which was declared an official function where the expenses will be borne by the Uttar Pradesh government. Media outlets reported that the state government sanctioned Rs 133 crore for the event. Nearly every mainstream news organisation carried similar reports – NDTV, Newsclick, National Herald, The Times of India, Live Hindustan, The Indian Express, ABP News, Mumbai Mirror, The Wire, The Hindu, The Quint, Jansatta, Outlook and Daily Pioneer, among others. Some of these media outlets like NDTV, Outlook, published IANS feed.
Journalists Rahul Pandita and Sakshi Joshi also tweeted the same.
Right-wing website OpIndiatoo said that an estimated Rs 133 crore was approved for the event.
Rs 1.33 crore, not Rs 133 crore
The estimated cost of ‘Deepotsav’ for 2019 is Rs 132.70 lakh or approximately Rs 1.33 crore, not Rs 133 crore. This was first pointed out by NDTV journalist Alok Pandey. The press release stating the budget allocation is available on the UP government website. It was released on October 22, a day before most media reports published an erroneous number.
The press release states, “वर्ष 2019 में आयोजन पर लगभग 132.70 लाख रुपये के व्यय का अनुमान है। इस मेले के आयोजन पर होने वाले व्ययभार का वहन शासन द्वारा धनराशि की उपलब्धता के आधार पर किया जाएगा। (Approximately Rs 132.60 lakh has been estimated toward the expenses of the event. The expenses incurred to organise this fair will be borne by the government based on the availability of funds.)“
The Uttar Pradesh government had, therefore, not sanctioned Rs 133 crore for ‘Deepotsava’, now declared a ‘state fair’, but Rs 1.33 crore, based on the “availability of funds”.