The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has spent a whopping Rs 1.28 crore of the taxpayers’ money on 19 study tours undertaken by its councillors and officials during the last 10 years, according to information obtained under the RTI Act.
South India has remained the preferred destination among members of the civic body, with two or more tours organised to places like Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Hyderabad.
Tours have also been organised to west and east India, and even abroad, but the councillors have never found any interesting development project worth studying in a north Indian city. Only a single one-day tour to Delhi was organised in February this year, says the RTI reply.
Foreign locations visited by the councillors included Singapore, Bangkok and Israel. Within the country, they visited Goa, Mysore, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Kerala, Gangtok, Mumbai, Nashik, Gujarat and Kolkata. Many of these places are popular tourist destinations, too.
Of the 19 study tours conducted since October 2004, as many as 13 were undertaken in the last four years and more than Rs 99 lakh spent.
The recent tour to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and other places was the most expensive, costing Rs 21.89 lakh while some payment is yet to be released to the travel agency. In his reply, Chief Accounts Officer Desh Raj Chaudhary said that the “actual expenditure” of the trip had not yet been submitted to the accounts branch more than two months after the tour was organised.
Despite councillor Satinder Singh’s repeated demands, the MC has also not tabled a report on the tour in the General House, which is against the UT Administration’s guidelines.