New Delhi: The Union information and broadcasting ministry has carried out a first-of-its-kind operation against fraudulent publications, with extensive raids being conducted against printers in the national capital and Lucknow.
The ministry has identified 277 newspapers and stopped adverstisements to them, and is likely to soon initiate proceedings to recover the money being generated by them through government advertisements.
The step comes under the intitiative of Union information and broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, in a bid to bring transparency to the entire process.
Sources said that teams from the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) and the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) conducted nine raids in Delhi (5) and Lucknow (4), in which these publications were found to be indulging in fraudulent activities to secure government advertisements.
It is understood that despite being given an opportunity, only 118 out of the 277 publications gave any explanation, while 159 did not even reply to the showcause notice issued by the I&B ministry.
The DAVP has proposed that publications who have not submitted any reply to the showcause notice should be de-empanelled by the government and recovery proceedings should also be initiatied against them. Sources said that the accreditation of journalists attached to these publications may also suspended by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
The spot verification of these printing presses revealed several discrepencies, with one of the presses being used to publish 70 publications, sources said.
The investigation has revelead that all these printers were empanelled under the DAVP. As per government figures, the publications were given advertisement worth Rs 1,95,44,987 during 2015-16 and Rs 1,19,36172 during 2016-17.
It is now understood that the recovery process for the amount is likely to be initiaited soon. It is learnt that this is the first phase of such action against fraudulent publications being brought out from various parts of the country. Subsequent action against more erring publications is likely to be taken, sources said.