Vivek Gupta & Gagandeep Singh Dhillon
Mayor H C Kalyan on Monday ordered an inquiry into the selection of the travel agency which organised the ‘study tour’ of municipal councillors, their family members and officials in September this year, and asked Commissioner V P Singh to ensure that a report was placed in the upcoming meeting of the general house on December 30.
In a note to the Commissioner, Kalyan said it had come to his notice from news reports that the travel agency which organised the ‘study tour’ to Chennai, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Kolkata from September 1 to 9 was owned by councillor Arun Sood’s brother-in-law and nephew.
“In this regard, the matter may be inquired into as to whether any undue benefit in any manner has been extended to the agency owned by the close relatives of Sood,” he said.
Newsline had reported on December 12 that Panchkula-based Konasth e-services Limited, which was given the task of organising the tour without inviting tenders, was owned by Sanjeev Sood and Sahil Vaid, brother-in-law and nephew respectively of Arun Sood, who is Leader of Opposition in the house.
On Monday, Newsline also reported that the councillors who took their relatives on the tour paid for their air tickets, but not for their stay, food and excursion. The inquiry that the mayor has ordered does not cover this aspect.
Arun Sood welcomed the inquiry, saying he was ready for the “strictest punishment” if he was found “even one per cent guilty”.
“Even before the mayor sought the inquiry, I spoke to Commissioner V P Singh on Sunday and asked him to come out with an official statement giving details of the officials involved in selecting the travel agency, whether tenders were supposed to be invited, how many quotations were called by the corporation and how many of them applied, who recommended which agency, and the entire procedure adopted in selecting the agency. The commissioner held a meeting in this regard on Monday and will soon divulge the details,” he said.
Arun Sood added, “However, if I come out clean, will the Congress councillors who are making allegations against me resign on moral grounds?”
BSP leader Jannat Jahan, who is also a councillor, demanded that Chandigarh Administrator Shivraj Patil should intervene in the matter as the tour was organised with his approval.