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Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported at dnaindia.com on Mar 25, 2012 President Pratibha Patil's wanderlust has cost the public exchequer a whopping Rs205 crore on her foreign visits, surpassing the record of all her predecessors. Since assuming office as the country's 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 Rs169 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 and "miscellaneous" expenses, according to the information provided by the ministry. 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, which pays Air India for use of chartered aircraft by the President, fended off RTI queries and provided little information. Air India has billed the Defence Ministry for over Rs 169 crore on account of aircraft used by Patil. Of this, the Ministry has paid nearly Rs153 crore, leaving unpaid bills of over Rs16 crore. 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 immediate predecessor Dr APJ Abdul Kalam undertook seven trips to 17 countries during his five-year tenure. Before that, KR Narayanan covered 10 countries in six trips and SD Sharma 16 countries in four trips. Details of other Presidents are not available but its unlikely that Patil's record of foreign travel is matched by any of her predecessors. Former President Kalam remained on foreign trips for 47 days during his tenure covering the UAE (twice), Sudan, Bulgaria, Tanzania, South Africa, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Myanmar, Mauritius, France and Greece. His predecessor Narayanan visited Peru, Brazil, Nepal, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg, Turkey, Germany, France and China in his six trips abroad in 46 days of his tenure. Sharma, who was President between 1992-97, also covered 16 countries in four trips which included Ukraine, Turkey, Hungary, the UK, Bulgaria, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Oman, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Italy. He remained on these trips for 47 days of his five-years tenure.
Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported at hindustantimes.com on November 25, 2009 Five years after Justice (retd.) S.N. Phukan submitted his report on the Tehelka scam, the Central Information Commission has asked the Centre to provide him a copy of the report for the former defence minister George Fernandes, whose name had figured in the case. He can get the copy only if the Lok Sabha Speaker had exempted the report from tabling in Parliament. “Lok Sabha Speaker would be the only authority in holding documentation to establish that such information has been exempted from being submitted to Parliament on any ground,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said on Monday. The defence ministry rejected Fernandes’ RTI application seeking copy of the report on the ground that it contained “highly sensitive and secret information relating to the defence equipments” and has not been tabled in the Parliament. In the interim report tabled in Parliament in 2008, Phukan had given Fernandes a clean- chit in $ 14 million defence deals and the Kandla-Bathinda pipeline project that had figured in the conversations taped by Tehelka. Habibullah said the Centre can’t deny providing the report’s copy as it failed to provide proof that the report was not tabled in “acquiescence of Parliament”. Source: Give Tehelka panel report to Fernandes, CIC tells govt- Hindustan Times