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Fact Check: Did the ISRO scientists work without pay for three months?

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In the recent Independence Day episode of The Ranveer Show podcast, guest Tehseen Poonawalla claimed that the ISRO scientists weren’t paid for three months and seemed so sure of his claim that he challenged it to be fact-checked.

As he spoke to the host about the inability of India to advance in the global race in Quantum computers, he said, “They haven’t paid ISRO salaries for the last three months. ISRO scientists haven’t been paid salaries for the last three months. Is that fair? And that’s my issue with this government. We’re very proud of ISRO. It’s a great organisation. Three-month salaries have not been paid, and feel free to fact-check me on this.”

Tehseen Poonawalla, a political analyst and businessman who recently appeared in the popular television reality show BIGGBOSS 13 as a wildcard entry, came under fire after his claims were debunked by the fact-checking arm of the Government of India Press Information Bureau, which confirmed that the scientists are paid on the last day of every month.

On the X handle of the Press Information Bureau @PIBFactCheck, the organisation published its findings,

BJP Party national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, called out his brother over his claims on X (formerly Twitter), he said, “Since you offered to be “fact-checked” Could you kindly elaborate on the names, designation of any 10 “ISRO scientists” (just 10) who haven’t been paid salaries (by the Modi govt) in the last 3 months, as claimed by you (& the Congress Jamaat)? Your video is extremely clear. Kindly back it up with facts.”

Though his claim regarding ISRO scientists not being paid turned out to be untrue, he went back on his previous claim and corrected his statement, he said “First: you can tweet without being personal or bitter! Second: No one hates the PM especially not me. So please chill. Third: It is Engineers and the below people still stand by the story as opposed to an RW website that counters the news. So kindly ask the government to clarify!”

Here, Tehseen speaks about the engineers who worked on ISRO’s Chandrayan 3, launched in July 2023. The said engineers worked for Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), which is a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries, and not under ISRO. Frontline reported last month that around 2,700 workers and 450 executives had not received their salaries for the past 14 months.

Despite the unpaid salaries, the HEC delivered the mobile launching pad ahead of schedule. This issue of unpaid salaries is attributed to a shortage of funds and the inadequacy of the concerned ministry; thus, Tehseen Poonawalla justified his claim and cleared the air by saying that he was questioning the present government about the state of HEC employees.

The Hindu carries a detailed run down on the plight of HEC engineers.

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