News agency Press Trust of India has been slapped with a ₹84.48 crore-fine for an alleged violation of the terms of lease under which it was allotted land by the government for its Sansad Marg office in Delhi, reported ThePrint on Monday (July 13).
The report claimed that Union housing ministry officials have confirmed this development, but said they have denied that PTI was being singled out. It said a notice in this connection was issued by the ministry’s Land and Development Office on July 7.
The officials reportedly said that the news agency had not paid ground rent since 1984 and also converted its basement into office, which was to be used only for storage purposes as per the land allotment terms.
An official also alleged unauthorised construction by PTI on the land and said the ₹84 crore fine includes all these violations. The news agency has reportedly been given time until August 7 to pay the amount, or else a 10 per cent interest will also be levied.
The news agency has also been given seven days’ time if it wishes to seek any clarification, the report added. A PTI spokesperson, it said, has confirmed receiving such a notice and said that the agency is seeking a clarification from the concerned authorities.
The notice came days after public broadcaster Prasar Bharati threatened PTI with cancelling its subscription for its “anti-national” news coverage. The warning had come after Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong, in an interview with PTI, blamed India for the Ladakh stand-off.
Started in 1949, the PTI is one of the country’s oldest news agencies that employs several hundreds of journalists and stringers.