How much can one spend on maintaining a garden? A few hundred rupees or a few thousand? Believe it or not but five Indian missions abroad overspent their “garden grant” by Rs 88 lakh between 2001 and 2007. These were the missions in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Muscat, Yangon and Singapore.
And guess who paid for the upkeep of those beautiful gardens so that our diplomats and their families could have a nice time there: the taxpayers.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest report has severely reprimanded the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for the “excess and unauthorised expenditure”. Most of these missions didn’t even care to take the MEA’s approval before incurring the unauthorised expenditure.
“The mission at Pretoria engaged a private company for maintaining gardens attached to government-owned chancery building, residences of high commissioner and deputy high commissioner without approval of the ministry and incurred expenditure of Rs 61.65 lakh during March 2004 to April 2007 beyond their delegation.”
According to the report, the mission in Singapore engaged a private company for maintaining the garden of the chancery building and staff quarters without the ministry’s approval and incurred unauthorised expenditure of Rs 10.53 lakh between 2004 and 2006.
“The mission at Yangon made an excess payment of Rs 2.80 lakh during July 2004 to March 2006, which needed to be recovered from them,” the report said. “The mission at Muscat made an excess payment of Rs 5.30 lakh during 2001-06.”