President Pratibha Patils foreign trips have cost the public exchequer Rs 205 crore. Since assuming office as the countrys first woman President in July 2007,Patil has undertaken 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries across four continents. She has four more months to go for her five-year tenure and a trip to South Africa is said to be on the anvil.
A series of RTI applications has revealed that Air India incurred over Rs 169 crore on use of chartered aircraft,always a Boeing 747-400,on the foreign visits by Patil,mostly accompanied by her family members. A visit to Bhutan was covered by a smaller jet.
A further sum of nearly Rs 36 crore has been incurred by the Ministry of External Affairs on accommodation,local travel,daily allowance as well as miscellaneous expenses,according to the information provided by the MEA.
The RTI applications were filed over a period of three years during which the authorities concerned showed great reluctance to reveal information.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD),which pays Air India for use of chartered aircraft by the President,fended off RTI queries and provided little information. Of the Rs 169 crore billed by Air India,the MoD has paid nearly Rs 153 crore.
President Patil has so far visited Brazil,Mexico,Chile,Bhutan,Vietnam,Indonesia,Spain,Poland,Russia,Tajikistan,the UK,Cyprus,China,Laos,Cambodia,the UAE,Syria,Mauritius,South Korea,Switzerland and Austria spending a total of 79 days abroad.
Her predecessor A P J Abdul Kalam undertook seven trips to 17 countries in his five-year tenure. Before that,K R Narayanan covered 10 countries in six trips and S D Sharma covered 16 countries in four trips.
Details of other Presidents are not available.