Bills of 27 Lok Sabha MPs, who stayed at the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi during the last one year, have not been approved by the Lok Sabha Secretariat since these MPs had been allotted government accommodation but chose to stay on at the hotel for one reason or the other. They together ran up a bill over Rs 5.69 crore by overstaying.
According to information obtained by The Sunday Express under the Right to Information Act from the Directorate of Estates under the Ministry of Urban Development, the directorate, which arranges accommodation for MPs on the request of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, paid over Rs 24 crore for the period May 16, 2014 to May 31, 2015 for the stay of over 120 MPs at the Ashok Hotel.
But bills over Rs 5.69 crore have been kept pending or are being re-processed since these were “not approved” by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. With Rs 10.34 lakh outstanding, Lok Jan Shakti Party MP Rama Kishore Singh tops the list of 27.
Sources in Directorate of Estates and Lok Sabha Secretariat said most bills are for the duration when these MPs were not entitled to stay at a hotel since they had been allotted accommodation. Some MPs did not shift to the allotted houses because they wanted allotments of their choice, others did not move in because the allotted houses had not been furnished to their liking, and still others said the allotted accommodation was not “habitable”.
Sources in Lok Sabha Secretariat said some MPs, who had overstayed, vacated the Ashok Hotel accommodation after Arjun Ram Meghwal, chairman of the housing committee, wrote two letters.
The information provided by the directorate has this list of unpaid Asok Hotel bills of MPs: Rama Kishore Singh (Rs 10.34 lakh), Mohanji Kalyanji Bhai Kundariya (Rs 5.76 lakh), Mahesh Sharma (Rs 5.34 lakh), Babul Supriyo (Rs 4.57 lakh), Bidyut Baran Mahato (Rs. 3.81 lakh), P Ravindra Babu (Rs 3.81 lakh), V K Singh (Rs 3.74 lakh), Upendra Kushwaha (Rs 3.64 lakh), Krishan Pal Gurjar (Rs 3.64 lakh), Manoj Tiwari (Rs 2.62 lakh), Manoj Sinha (Rs 2.02 lakh), B B Patil (Rs 1.95 lakh), B Subhash Ramrao (Rs 1.44 lakh), Kalraj Mishra (Rs 59,354), Radheshyam Biswas (Rs 59,354), Anupriya Patel (Rs 54,509), Kunwar Haribansh Singh (Rs 54,509), Anshul Verma (Rs 50,875), Bhola Singh (Rs 42,396), A P Jithender Reddy (Rs 33,916), Dalpat Singh Paraste, Manohar Untwal, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Sirajuddin Ajmal, Thota Narasimham, Yashwant Singh (Rs 8,479 each) and Riti Pathak (Rs 8,450).
Reached for comments, most MPs said they were “unaware” that their Ashok Hotel bills had not been approved.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said: “Nobody told me this fact.” A spokesperson for Upendra Kushwaha, MoS for HRD, said: “We are yet to receive any such bill.” The political attache to MoS V K Singh said: “Minister had vacated the Asok Hotel room even before he was allotted government accommodation. These bills may be wrong.”
Mohanji Kalyanji Bhai Kundariya, MoS Agriculture, said: “I am still in Asok because the house allotted to me is still not ready to live in. I am going to vacate the hotel room very soon. I don’t know about the unapproved bill.” Manoj Sinha, MoS Railways, and Anupriya Patel, Apna Dal MP, said they were not aware of the unapproved bills.
Incidentally, MoS Mahesh Sharma is in charge of the tourism department. The Asok Hotel is under his ministry. Sharma’s spokesperson Rajeev Pathak said, “Minister did not stay in the hotel for even a single day. The room was booked by the Lok Sabha Secretariat but his staff was staying there, not the minister. Copy of the unapproved bill is yet to reach the minister.”
Incidentally, some MPs who availed of the transit accommodation facility have their own houses in Delhi and NCR or represent constituencies in the area. According to information provided under the RTI, the Directorate of Estates paid Rs 21.96 lakh for Maheish Girri, Rs 21.62 lakh for Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, Rs 18.23 lakh for Mahesh Sharma, Rs 16.36 lakh for Manoj Tiwari, Rs 8.56 lakh for Udit Raj, Rs 2.62 lakh for Krishan Pal Gurjar, Rs 1.78 lakh for V K Singh for their stay at the Asok Hotel during the transit period. A directorate official said: “There is no violation of any rule here because they are entitled to it.”