Two municipal corporation (MC) officials, scheduled to go on a seven-day study tour of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore on Wednesday, cancelled their South-east Asia trip at the last minute.
Though sources said the two officials cancelled the trip after they came to know that their schedule only involved sight-seeing, they inadvertently wasted the Rs. 4 lakh the UT administration had spent on the tour.
MC chief engineer SS Bidda and superintending engineer Mukesh Anand were to board their flight from New Delhi at 11.30pm, Wednesday. But, minutes before the check-in time, the two decided against it and returned to Chandigarh.
Though the exact reason is yet to be ascertained, sources say the engineers refused to board the plane after they found that only sightseeing had been mentioned in the schedule handed over to them at the airport, and had no mention of a conference.
Engineers Development Council, a New Delhi-based autonomous body of engineers that had organised the trip, is unlikely to refund the money as it does not have a policy on the same.
UT administration had recommended the two MC officials after the Engineers Development Council had approached it earlier this year.
Though the tour was scheduled from May 16 to 23, it was postponed to May 22 as the engineers received their visas late.
Contacted, Ravi Kumar of the Engineers Development Council, New Delhi, said: "We do not know why they cancelled the tour at the last moment."
He added that as the tour had to begin from May 16, other members of the delegation had already left. "Yet, they decided to go. I don't understand why they came back from the airport on Wednesday," he said. HT had on May 18 highlighted how the UT administration had violated directions of the union finance ministry by spending money on the foreign tour of its officials. Ministry had issued directions in May 2012, saying that proposals for study tours abroad on government cost will not be entertained.
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga criticised the administration's decision to send its men for the trip. "The decision to leave on May 22, when the tour was from May to 22, defies logic. They earlier had only violated union finance ministry directions, but now even wasted government money, he said.
Despite repeated attempts, the two officers could not be contacted.