Amid criticism over the proposed “study tour” by councillors and officials of the cash-starved civic body to Kerala and Kolkata, Chandigarh Mayor Rajesh Kalia Monday clarified that the “trip will not be cancelled at any cost.”
“The study tour will be undertaken at any cost irrespective of any criticism. We will bring a lot of studies back home and make a difference to our city by implementing all the new things,” Mayor Rajesh Kalia told Chandigarh Newsline.
The mayor also alleged that Congress councillors, who have denied to take part in the trip, are “playing petty politics”.
UT Adviser Manoj Parida who gave in principle approval for the trip, without any agenda being laid for it, said, “Elected representatives are entitled to certain tours just like the MPs. In principle approval has been given. They will submit the details.”
Trip by one group will be undertaken from December 21 onwards and the other from December 22 onwards.
The “study tour”, which includes stay at a five star hotel, will cost around Rs 35 lakh, which will be borne from the public money.
Cong says won’t go, 2 councillors upset
Terming the study tour “sheer wastage of money”, Congress councillors said they will not participate in it. “ We are not against study tours. We are against the fact that they are going without any agenda and without any purpose,” leader of opposition and Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla said. Sources said that two women councillors were upset with Congress releasing this statement as they wanted to join the “junket”. Just received a letter: Commissioner
Before Commissioner Municipal Corporation K K Yadav could even give his comments, he just received a letter from the Mayor stating that approval from Adviser has been given and they have to undertake a tour for which funds be made available.
Commissioner was reportedly bypassed and a direct approval from the adviser was taken so that the former cannot raise any objection on the trip.
Splurging public money: FOSWAC Chairman Chairman of the Federations of Sectors Welfare Associations of Chandigarh, Baljinder Singh Bittu, said that “personal enjoyment” should not be done at the cost of public money.
“If they want to go on leisure trip, why are they wasting public money. Here, the citizens are fed up of the broken roads and these councillors are splurging funds on the trip. How can the officers even give permission for this wastage? Recovery should be made from each of them,” Bittu said.
Ever since they got elected in December 2016, the councillors have undertaken three study tours spending around Rs 60 lakh.
However, the municipal corporation has not implemented any of the “studies” they brought back from these trips.
In 2017, the councillors and officers went on a trip to Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam and Pune in three different groups from April 17 to 22.
The trips were undertaken to study sanitation and water supply after spending Rs 20 lakh. But, none of things “learnt” from these trips were implemented in the city.
After drawing flak for not tabling a report on the trip, it was tabled much later after convening a special House meeting. It was discussed that a smart e-learning school should be established in Chandigarh on the lines of the one in Pune.
However, nothing in this regard was discussed later.
In 2018, a study tour was undertaken to six cities — Indore, Bhopal, Vijayawada in Hyderabad, Navi Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam and Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh — costing around Rs 30 lakh. Councillors stated that they will study solid waste management, water supply and various other topics.
But, yet again, nothing was done to improve waste management in the city.
Last month, the councillors went to Leh Ladakh saying that they will pay obeisance at Gurdwara Pathar Sahib on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.