Cash-strapped Bengal bans ‘study trips’ by MLAs

After spending lakhs on lavish trips to exotic Indian destinations undertaken by standing committee members of the West Bengal Assembly

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Published: June 21, 2012 12:35:19 am

After spending lakhs on lavish trips to exotic Indian destinations undertaken by standing committee members of the West Bengal Assembly,the cash-starved state government has issued a ban on such tours “for the time being”.

Speaker Biman Banerjee said only intra-state tours would be allowed.

According to Assembly sources and official records,various standing committees have made at least 15 tours between November 2011 and March 2012. The average cost for each inter-state ‘study tours’,mostly to popular travel destinations like Andaman,Lakshadweep,Kashmir,Himachal Pradesh,Assam,Arunachal Pradesh,Manipur and Mizoram,is around Rs 6 to 10 lakh.

In one such ‘study tour’,members of the Standing Committee on Transport visited Lakshadweep in February this year. The same month,members of the Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs made a trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “We went to Andaman to study the water supply system and civic amenities. We will submit a report soon,” said Prabodh Sinha,Left Front MLA and chairman of the committee. “In the Andamans,some of the committee members asked us to arrange for a three-day sea cruise,which is a very costly affair. The request could not be accommodated,” said an official.

In another ‘study tour’ in February,the Estimates Committee travelled to Assam and Meghalaya. When asked what they studied in the two states,panel chairman Mohammad Shorab,a Congress MLA,said: “We visited Assam and Meghalaya to study the education system.” However,he said,“we also saw some of the tourist sites” there.

Khagen Murmu,CPM MLA and chairman of the Bidhayak Elaka Unnanayan Committee,said: “Twelve members of our 20-member committee,representing almost all parties,visited Manipur and Mizoram to see how the local MLAs have constructed school buildings.”

A senior Assembly official said: “Most of the standing committees always try to visit Andaman or Kashmir or Northeast,which are tourist destinations.”

“The expenses are very high. We have,for the time being,decided to stop sanctioning interstate tours. The CM is aware of this,” said Speaker Banerjee.

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