The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has sent a notice to news agency Press Trust of India, asking it to pay more than Rs 84 crore as a penalty for alleged breaches at its office in New Delhi, reported IANS. The notice was sent by the Land and Development Office, which comes under the ministry, on July 7 but came to attention on Monday.
The notice adds that the news agency must give an undertaking on non-judicial stamp paper stating that it will pay the difference of “misuse/damage charges” if the land rates are revised with retrospective effect from April 1, 2016, and will also remove the “breaches” by July 14 this year, or get them regularised by paying charges. The Land and Development Office added that if the amount is not paid in the stipulated time period, an additional 10% interest may be levied.
“Further action to execute the lease deed shall be subject to complete payment and putting to use of the premises as per permissible under the master plan,” the notice read. The notice added that if PTI did not comply with its terms, the “concession of limiting the penalty” will be withdrawn.
The government’s notice to PTI comes two weeks after national broadcaster Prasar Bharati threatened to cancel its subscription of the news agency for its “anti-national coverage”. Prasar Bharati is among PTI’s biggest subscribers.
The warning came days after the news agency carried an interview of Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong amid the border standoff between India and China. In the interview, the Chinese diplomat had accused New Delhi of deliberately provoking the violent clash in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15, which led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers.