External affairs minister SM Krishna on Tuesday ordered a departmental probe into allegations of procedural lapses and cost escalation levelled by the culture ministry against his ministry in connection with a museum project in Sri Lanka.
The action follows Hindustan Times’ report on Monday of the culture ministry blocking the MEA’s proposal for a gallery at the international Buddhist museum in Kandy, citing lapses and a 21-fold inflation in project cost from R53.8 lakh to R8.56 crore. It has refused to take charge of the project, which is being associated with 17 countries.
Krishna — whose nod was reportedly not sought for the project — also sent a reminder on Monday to all posts, missions and secretaries that the MEA must not follow the “nomination route” but go for “open and transparent bidding” for all projects, warning rule violators with “strict disciplinary action”.
He held meeting with officials concerned and called for all files on the project. “The minister has asked for an enquiry into various issues of the project that was never put up before him for his consideration,” sources said.
The culture ministry has also objected to the MEA directly appointing National Museum curator JE Dawson as project coordinator, saying the Delhi museum is “not in a position to take up the work on the MEA’s behalf”, and advising an “open and transparent bidding process” to select an appropriate agency.