The General House of the Municipal Corporation (MC) on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to waive off the amount that was to be recovered from the councillors who had taken their families on study tour to Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair.
After an enquiry, notices were issued to the nine councillors for payment of Rs 9,000 each. The money was to be deducted from the honorarium given to them.
The issue was raised by councillor Subhash Chawla, who said, “Rs 9,000 is not a huge sum of money but the matter is one of self-respect for all the councillors who were part of that trip. The schedule of the tour programme was released in advance. So the allegation of using corporation money for personal benefits are frivolous.” Chawla added, “The consequent enquiry reports found no wrongdoing on part of the councillors.”
Councillor HC Kalyan said, “Study tours have been organised since 1976. There had been no controversy prior to this particular trip, where eventually no misconduct was found on the part of the councillors. The after-effects of the controversy should not continue to linger and a resolution should be passed to return the money to the councillors.”
The civic body had spent Rs 28 lakh on the tour last year. The MC councillors, some along with their families and other officials, had reached Chennai on September 1. On September 3, they left for Tirupati in Andhra. Similarly, on September 5, the group left for Havelock Island, which has no civic body.
A total of 39 members, including 19 councillors, the Mayor, six UT and MC officials and 13 members of councillors’ families, went on the study tour instead of the approved 26.
The upcoming study tour of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation officials to Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu is also embroiled in a controversy. The councillors who were not selected for the tour on Tuesday sought a reply from Mayor Poonam Sharma on the selection criteria.
A total of 10 councillors and two officers of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation were chosen by the Mayor for the trip. Answering a query by councillor Satinder Singh, Sharma replied “The study tour to Nepal (the original destination for the tour prior to the earthquake) was a Central government project and also included a meeting of corporation officials from across the world. I had sought permission for all 26 councillors to be taken but then was asked to shortlist a total of 10 councillors due to a fixed budget from the Centre.”
Refuting claims of bias, she said the 10 councillors were chosen due to their excellence or seniority in respective fields.