MC report on Port Blair study tour mere eyewash

  • Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 27, 2014 11:34 IST

The four-page fact-finding report on the controversial nine-day study tour of 20 councillors and six officials to Port Blair, Kolkata and Chennai in September has turned out to be merely an eyewash and does not blame anyone.

Municipal corporation (MC) joint commissioner Rajeev Gupta, who was involved in finalising the agency and also part of the tour, prepared the report and submitted it to MC commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh on Friday.

Though no procedure was followed to finalise the study tour on which Rs 28 lakh was spent, the report exonerates everybody who was part of the tour.

The report just mentions the sequence of events and how the tour was finalised. It says it was with the consent of councillors who vied for travel agencies and finally, the agency that was proposed by BJP councillor Arun Sood and had offered the lowest rates was awarded the contract.

On August 26, the councillors had proposed travel agencies in the mayor’s room and Sood had proposed Journey Cook, a Panchkula-based travel agency, which was finalised for the tour.

The report further stated that no tenders were floated and agencies were invited telephonically on the recommendations of councillors. Total five agencies approached, but two backed out and out of three remaining agencies, Journey Cook was finalised.

The tour had sparked a controversy for overshooting the sanctioned expenditure as family members of several councillors had also joined the trip, taking the delegation to 40 from the approved 26.

On December 15, mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan had ordered an inquiry into the so-called ‘study tour’ and to probe Sood’s role.
Sood remained in the eye of the storm after it came to the light that the said travel agency was owned by Sood’s brother-in-law Sanjeev Sood and nephew Sahil Vaid.

On a question on why the agency proposed by Sood was finalised, Gupta said it had offered the lowest rates and they were not aware that this agency was owned by Sood’s relatives.

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