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  1. As reported at dnaindia.com on Sep 27, 2011 The government has spent nearly Rs42 crore on foreign visits by Union ministers during the last one year. The information provided in an RTI reply shows that while Cabinet ministers spent Rs 37.16 crore on their foreign visits, their junior colleagues, Ministers of State, spent about Rs4.76 crore on these visits bringing the total travel expenditure to Rs41.82 crore for the year 2010-11. The Cabinet Secretariat has given these consolidated figures of foreign visits expenses incurred by the Ministers to activist SC Agrawal after instructions from the Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra who directed it to make the disclosure. In the case, Agrawal had sought to know from the Cabinet Secretariat the travel details of Union ministers for the last three years, but he was told that information was "scattered" across different ministries and he would have to collect it from them separately. When the matter reached the Central Information Commission, the Cabinet Secretariat reiterated its position. The secretariat also noted that to collate the information, a large volume of records and documents would have to be scrutinised which would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority. "While we tend to agree with the submission made by the respondents (Cabinet Secretariat), we think it would be in the interest of transparency if some key information about the domestic and international travel by Union ministers could be maintained centrally in Cabinet Secretariat itself, especially since the pay and accounts office under it is responsible for all accounting details for payment of the salary and reimbursement of their travel expenditure," CIC Satyananda Mishra had said in his order.
  2. As reported by Express News Service on January 16, 2008: Believe it or not, only one Admin official went on foreign tour in the last two years Believe it or not, only one Admin official went on foreign tour in the last two years Chandigarh, January 15 While there have been frequent foreign tours by the Chandigarh Administration officials in the recent years, the Administration’s reply to an application under the RTI Act claims that only one of its official — Home Secretary Krishna Mohan— was sent on foreign tours in the last two years. It follows from the reply that the Administration spent around Rs 17.8 lakh on the four European tours of the Home Secretary. Perplexed at the obvious omission of the names and details of so many other officials who had been on tours abroad in the recent months, R K Garg, a local resident who had moved the application, has now again sought a reply from the Administration. Garg had moved an application under the RTI on September 9 last year to know, among other things, how many UT officials had gone on foreign tours in the last two years, what was the total expense and what public interest did it serve? In a reply dated September 27, 2007, the CPIO expressed his inability as he did not possess the information in the manner it was required. Garg again made the request on October 1, to which the CPIO on October 24 again expressed his inability. Garg then filed an appeal with the Appellate Authority which transferred the application to PIO Cash Branch to furnish the requisite information. However, the two-page reply that Garg received on December 26, it says that only one officer — Home Secretary Krishna Mohan — has made a foreign visit in the last two years. The reply does not mention the name of any other official, whereas the Administration had sent a three-member team led by the Finance Secretary to Brussels in mid-2007, and Director Tourism too had toured Europe along with the Home Secretary. “I have sought a fresh reply from the Administration,” said Garg, who said that keeping in view the information on the internet and in media, the number of such visits should have been more.
  3. As reported By Vinod Kumar Menon and Sanjeev Devasia at mid-day.com at 7 Sept 2010 Of this, Rs 16 lakh was spent on foreign travel in 2007 alone to learn about 'commercial land development', reveals RTI For commercial development of railway land and airspace in India, do you need to visit foreign countries? Yes, if you are an officer of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC). Through details obtained under RTI Act, it has come to light that between 2007 and 2009, the MRVC incurred overall expenses to the tune of Rs 97 lakh on foreign trips. The MRVC spent over Rs 16 lakh in 2007 alone to facilitate the visit of its officers, including its managing director, to several foreign countries ostensibly to carry out a technical study for commercial development of railway land and airspace in Mumbai. Now nobody knows how the foreign tours could help MRVC learn how to commercially develop railway land in the country, especially when the state and central governments have successfully exploited and commercially developed vacant lands across the country. This does not end here. The commercial land available presently with the railways in Mumbai is at Bandra and the responsibility for its development is no longer with the MRVC; instead it has been handed over to the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA). While the MRVC has shaken off the inertia it showed right after its formation, in carrying out railway projects specifically focused on Mumbai, the organisation still is a place where almost every officer has the privilege of going on foreign trips for the flimsiest of reasons. MiD DAY had reported in July 2007 about the foreign tours made by MRVC officers, even before a single project had taken off in the city. Almost three years later, the RTI documents in the possession of MiD DAY reveal that the MRVC spent Rs 16,23,328 to facilitate globetrotting for officials to countries like the UK, Germany, Holland, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong in May and June, 2007. The reason was to carry out a technical study for commercial development of land and airspace in Mumbai. OFFICERS' FOREIGN TRIPS The RTI query revealed that the following officers visited foreign countries in May 2007, apparently to carry out a technical study for commercial development of railway land and airspace: >> PC Sehgal, Managing Director, made a trip to UK, Germany, and Holland; Expenses: Rs 5,33,411 >> Atul Mohan, FA and CAO, made a trip to UK, Germany, and Holland; Expenses: Rs 3,96,152 >> Vishnu Kumar, Director, Projects, made a trip to Japan, Hongkong, and Singapore; Expenses: Rs 3,72,183. >> Sanjay Mittal, Chief Engineer, travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore; Expenses: Rs 3,21,582. >> P H Oke, travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore; Expenses: Rs 1,68,275.
  4. As reported by Vibhor Mohan at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Aug 4, 2010 CHANDIGARH: Even as municipal councillors plan yet another expedition in search of bright ideas to make local body serve better, an analysis of the previous eight such jaunts in six years shows little has been achieved. In fact, after spending Rs 11.67 lakh on four study tours, groups of councillors did not even submit any report to the MC about the new findings made by them. Over Rs 35 lakh has been spent in total on all the tours. The costliest of the tours was the one to Singapore and Bangkok (Rs 17.87 lakh) in November, 2007, to ?gain knowledge on road construction, management of parking spaces, night food markets, system of drinking water supply and other aspects of city administration, gardens and parks.? One key suggestion in the tour report pertained to issuance of pre-paid coupons to public, which are punched at the time of parking. “The paid parking system in Singapore is operated with the help of electronic gates, which can be replicated in Chandigarh also,” it said. “Space to park cars in multi-storeyed parking lots and inside malls can be booked by buying tickets from any grocery store and that too for several years in advance. For night parking, the city has different rates. Those not following parking rules have to pay heavy fines of up to Rs 15,000. The ticket money and fines can be paid at ATMs,” it added. However, no attempt has been made to implement these suggestions. Similarly, in the report on functioning of the local body in Chennai, the councillors had highlighted that property tax was the main source of income for the MC and it was 30% of annual rental value for residential and other buildings. However, Chandigarh councillors have been shirking introduction of the tax all these years. As per information received by Subhash Kataria, president, Traders’ Association, Sector 17, under the RTI Act, councillors did not submit any report after visiting Bangalore and Mysore, Cochin and Trivandrum, Bangalore and Mysore and Mumbai and Goa. “The objective of the study tour should be critically examined before giving financial sanction for such wasteful outings. The emphasis should be on getting information from the neighbouring states or easily accessible details on the websites of agencies operating abroad,” he said. Replying to a specific question on whether action could be taken against councillors if they go on the pretext of study tour but fail to submit a report, MC authorities said that there was no such provision in the rules.
  5. Are judges holidaying at public expense? Reported by Meetu Jain / CNN-IBN on Tue, May 20, 2008 at 20:09, in Nation section BENDING RULES? An RTI application shows how judges have gone for holidays at government expense. New Delhi: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, KG Balakrishnan, wants judges to be kept out of the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act. Now an RTI application put in by CNN-IBN has thrown up interesting details of how judges have been traveling abroad, often for personal holidays at government expense. Ironically the urge to travel starts at the top. Balakrishnan, after taking over as Chief Justice, made at least seven trips abroad in 2007 traveling First Class with his wife with the air fare alone costing over Rs 39 lakh. For instance, during his 11-day trip to Pretoria, South Africa in August 2007, the Chief Justice took the following route - Delhi, Dubai, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Capetown, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, where the judge finally didn't go and returned via Dubai to Delhi. The air fare alone cost Rs 5.70 lakh and did not include the stay, TA, DA or Entertainment Allowance. Entertainment Allowance itself was over Rs 80,000. Government rules permit travel only by the shortest route, yet the Prime Ministers Office, which sanctions these trips, did not ask why the Chief Justice wanted to go to tourist destinations like Nelspruit, Capetown or Victoria Falls. Union Law Minister HR Bhardwaj says, " They also need comfort, they also need to go out. Why they should be deprived of it.'' And what about government rules that say judges cannot be accompanied by wives on work tours? "How can you deprive the wife? You are a woman. You should understand," Bhardwaj tells the CNN-IBN correspondent. Former chief justice YK Sabharwal's foreign travel was no different. The judge attended three conferences in 2005 to Edinburgh, Washington and Paris. While the conferences lasted 11 days, Sabharwal was out for 38 days with 21 days converted into a private visit. The travel plan includes a detour from Washington to Baltimore, Orlando and Atlanta, before rejoining the conference route in Paris. The First Class air fare for Sabharwal entire trip was paid by the Central government. The other judges too have traveled abroad costing the exchequer huge sums of money. Supreme Court judges Justices PP Naolekar and AK Mathur could not find a direct flight to Bangkok in November 2007. Are judges holidaying at public expense?
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