Travel agent selection: MC officials pass buck | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Travel agent selection: MC officials pass buck

Nobody, it seems, finalised the travel operator for a 10-day study tour of the municipal contract worth Rs 28 lakh. The tour has already generated controversy for overshooting the sanctioned expenditure and for family members of several councillors joining the trip, taking the delegation to 40, instead of the official 26.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 20, 2014 08:07 IST
Hillary Victor

Nobody, it seems, finalised the travel operator for a 10-day study tour of the municipal contract worth Rs 28 lakh. The tour has already generated controversy for overshooting the sanctioned expenditure and for family members of several councillors joining the trip, taking the delegation to 40, instead of the official 26.

HT has learnt that the MC did not follow the mandatory norms for finalising the travel agency as no tenders were invited. The mandatory public notice for inviting quotations was also not issued, before finalising Panckula-based travel agency Journey Cook.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) norms, in this regard, mandate that the MC is bound to invite open tenders or public notices for allotting any government work over Rs 5,000.

Passing the buck
When questioned on the issue, joint commissioner Rajiv Gupta, who was also part of the tour said, "I did not finalise the travel agent. Executive Engineer, Sham Lal dealt with it and he must have finalised the agency."

Contradicting his claims, Sham Lal told HT, "I am not the authority to allot any work. It is Rajeev Gupta who is the competent authority for this." A BJP councillor told HT that the agency was recommended by a senior party councillor and no market survey was even carried out to cross-check the rates offered. Now, questions are being raised on the rates that the MC has paid, and loss to the exchequer cannot be ruled out. A survey of the market by HT shows that the same package could have been procured from the market at around Rs 18 lakh.

BJP councillor Satinder Singh said: "Even for small works of public convenience like construction of a road gully, costing Rs 85,000, three months are taken to finalise the contract. Here, Rs 28 lakh expenditure was sanctioned bypassing all norms." City mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan: "I do not know, but officers were to finalise the agency."

HT has learnt that many in the touring party visited the beaches of the Havelock Island, not a part of the iternary, and spent around Rs 4 lakh on the excursion.

Sachin Sharma, chairman, Youth Innovative Society, said, "We have written a letter to the Prime Minister over the wastage of huge public money on these study tours."

RUNNING ROUHGSHOD OVER LAW
"The norms of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) mandate that a local body is bound to invite open tenders or public notices for allotting any government work over Rs 5,000. For finalising the travel agent, no tenders were invited. No public notice was issued invited quotations.

"The agency also finalised a special package for former mayor and SGPC member Harjinder Kaur, who joined the tour at Port Blair after three days. Interestingly, she skipped a meeting on disaster management.