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As reported by Sowmya Aji at indiatoday.intoday.in on September 29, 2010 The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) hotels, the Ashok and Janpath, in the Capital are paying the price for allowing some parliamentarians to overstay. Ten MPs of the 14th Lok Sabha, including actors Dharmendra, Jaya Prada and Govinda, together ran up a bill of Rs 1.2 crore at the two hotels, but nobody appears to be willing to pay. The details were revealed by the Ashok hotel in a reply to activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal's query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The hotel has been running from pillar to post for the past one year trying to recover the dues, but to no avail. "The hotels have not been able to get the money back as neither the government nor the MPs have come forward to pay the bills," Agrawal said. The parliamentarians overstayed at the hotels despite being allotted government accommodation. When MPs are elected, they are put up in the ITDC hotels till the directorate of estates allots them government accommodation. While the bill for this temporary stay is borne by the government, there does not appear to be any guideline on who will pay if the MPs continue to stay at the hotels even after being allotted government accommodation. "This lack of clarity has resulted in the hotels having to bear the burden," Agrawal said. Bollywood's He-man and BJP MP Dharmendra's bill for overstay from June 1, 2004 to January 14, 2005, is Rs 80,979. His dues are much less compared with the others. Congress MP Govinda's outstanding dues for the stay from December 8, 2004, to November 16, 2005 is Rs 5,53,361. Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada overstayed from May 21, 2004, to September 2, 2005, and ran a bill of Rs 5,98,350 for this period. The worst offender was Rashtriya Janata Dal MP and former minister of state for human resource development Mohd A. A. Fatmi, who ran up a bill of ` 18,13,044 for overstaying at the hotel from June 10, 2004, to September 6, 2005. In a letter written to the Lok Sabha secretary-general on November 27, 2009, Rajiv Makin, director (commercial and marketing) of the ITDC, sought his help in recovering the entire amount - Rs 1,20,18,491. Makin said the two ITDC hotels had already waived the revised tariffs and taxes to the tune of over Rs 6 lakh for the MPs in both hotels. "The outstanding of Rs 1.2 crore has still remained unsettled. Already considerable time has elapsed and no progress has been made in this regard. I would request you to kindly use your good offices for the needful in the matter,'' the letter said. However, there has been no action so far. In response to another RTI petition filed by Agrawal, the two hotels said several letters had been written to the secretaries- general of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha seeking payment of the outstanding amount. Even meetings were held with the joint secretary of the Lok Sabha and the director of the Rajya Sabha secretariat, but to no avail, they said. In its latest reply to Agrawal on the matter, the Ashok said: "The matter of recovery was taken up at the corporate level with the secretary-general of the Lok Sabha and the directorate of estates telephonically and through personal visits. Since the amount of Rs 1,20,18,491 has not been received, copy of remittance is not available." The only saving grace is that the Lok Sabha secretariat and the directorate of estates seem to have realised the problem and ensured that no MP of the 15th Lok Sabha overstayed in any ITDC hotel. The Ashok has made it clear that no 'credit stay' facility will be available for the MPs. The question of who will pay the outstanding of the freeloading MPs, however, still remains.
As reported by Sowmya Aji at indiatoday.intoday.in on November 17, 2009 Our MPs owe the nation crores of rupees in unpaid telephone, electricity and water bills.Worse still, there is no law or provision to recover the dues once their terms end. A partial assessment of the total figure owed by the MPs - both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha - submitted as part of a petition in the Delhi High Court puts just the outstanding telephone bills at a whopping Rs 8.18 crore. The arrears cover a period from 1979, the start of the seventh Lok Sabha to June, 2008. "If the common man does not pay his bill, his telephone connection, water and power supplies are immediately disconnected. But MPs, who are supposed to set an example for all of us, are allowed to get away with huge outstanding bills. How is that allowed?" asked RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal. The problem is in recovering dues once the MPs term finishes. The ministry of parliamentary affairs has admitted in a reply to Aggarwal's application that according to the Salary, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament Act (1954), there is no provision to deduct the dues from the pensions of the MPs. According to the Act, telephone dues and house rent can be recovered from a current MP's salary and travel and dearness allowances. But, once his tenure is over, there is no way the money can be recovered. As the ministry of parliamentary affairs states: "There are no provisions in the Act to block payment of salaries of existing or pensions of former members of the Houses who have defaulted on dues." The list of 'offenders' includes former Andhra Pradesh chief minister K. Vijaybhaskar Reddy, former Karnataka CM R. Gundu Rao, former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal, Bihar leader Suraj Mandal and former Union ministers Raghuvansh Pratap Singh and C. P. Thakur. The biggest offender, according to a reply provided by the Lok Sabha secretariat to Aggarwal, is former MP ABA Ghani Khan Choudhary, who owes the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) Rs 39 lakh and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) Rs 40 lakh. In this case, the recovery was stopped after he expired. There are others against whom recovery proceedings have been stopped only because they are no longer members of the Lok Sabha. Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda owes the NDMC Rs 3,64,237. But, this money cannot be recovered from him. "Monthly recovery was being made until he ceased to be a member of Lok Sabha and was appointed the chief minister of Haryana," according to the department of parliamentary affairs. This means, after he became CM, he is not liable to pay his dues to the NMDC. The same is the case with Shibu Soren, who owes the NMDC Rs 6,63,924. "Monthly recovery was made until he ceased to be a member of Lok Sabha and a Union minister," the department states. The list of similar defaulters is long. The MTNL list goes back to 1979. The 10th Lok Sabha has the highest number of defaulters - 110 MPs, running up dues of Rs 2.86 crore. The just concluded 14th Lok Sabha has 91 MPs with outstanding bills totaling up to Rs 1.89 crore. The amount due from Rajya Sabha MPs up to June, 2008 adds up to a more moderate Rs 28 lakh Source: No rap for errant MPs: India Today - Latest Breaking News from India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood.