The external affairs ministry spent more than Rs 7 crore on the 10th World Hindi Conference in Bhopal from September 10-12 last year, a reply to an RTI query has revealed.
The reply also revealed that the union finance ministry had sanctioned Rs 10 crore to hold the conference. It added that since the payments under certain heads were still in progress, details of the full expenditure could not be given out.
A copy of the break-up of the expenditure was obtained by whistle-blower Ajay Dubey through an RTI application in January 2016.
The application added that apart from the external affairs ministry, the Madhya Pradesh government also spent a large amount of money on the conference. The ministry said it was not privy to this. According to the RTI reply, the logo designer was given a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and postal stamps worth `206,000 were purchased. The state government’s Madhyam organisation was paid Rs 3,30,28,538 for event management and an additional `68,37,026 on publicity about the event.
An amount of `13,07,010 was paid to M/s Koni for bags given away to the delegates. M/s Maxcreation was paid `4,05,825 for providing writing material, information booklets and felicitation certificates. The Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corp Ltd (MPSTDC) was paid Rs 60,24,497 for local transport and Rs 79,21,479 for hotel charges, the reply added.
An amount of Rs 1,20,90,033 was again paid to MPSTDC for catering.
The ministry spent Rs 2,95,880 for the release of a book on overseas literature that came from Johannesburg, where the ninth edition of the conference was held in September 2012. An honorarium of Rs 200,000 was paid to the music group led by Suhasini Joshi, the RTI reply added.
The ministry paid `160,000 to the organisers for the inaugural and closing ceremonies. It gave Rs 356,699 to M/s Narula Printers to print the souvenir. An honorarium of Rs 373,000 was paid to the editors and writers of the overseas literature.
The ministry spent Rs 20,38,781 for the travel expenses of the foreign delegations. A control room was established for Rs 42,901 and Rs 49,284 was spent on transportation charges for the control room. An additional Rs 50,160 was paid to MPSTDC to hire a car for the control room.
Makhanlal Chaturvedi University was paid Rs 214,060 for printing daily newsletters for the conference. The ministry also paid Rs 16,38,422 to Balmer Lawrie for air tickets of the government delegation. Fouji Travels was paid Rs 148,185 for car rentals in Delhi, the reply said.