Despite suggestions from parliamentary panels to curtail its rental bills abroad, the ministry of external affairs seems to be living it up.
Figures accessed by Hindustan Times, using the Right to Information Act, show that it has paid over Rs 152 crore in the past three years for running the Indian missions and posts abroad.
In 2007-08 ministry of external affairs' rental bill was Rs 46,56,64,343, in 2008-09 it rose up to Rs 51,37,25,012 and touched Rs 54,36, 20, 906 in 2009-10.
The Public Accounts Committee had in 1986-87 said, "The Government should… draw up a long-term plan, which should provide the acquisition of plots and immovable properties, and construction of buildings on plots already acquired so that rental outgo, which is increasing year after year, is reduced to the barest minimum".
In 2007-2008 the committee said, "The continuous increase in unspent funds indicates that the ministry has been hiring more and more luxurious property abroad, entailing large rentals instead of investing in acquisition of property."
This was then. However, rentals continue to go up despite the budgetary provisions for buying properties so that the rentals can be brought up, too going up over the years.
The ministry of external affairs budget has provisions under the capital Outlay on Public Works and Housing that "cater to the expenditure on acquisition and construction of chanceries and residential properties abroad and offices/institutes in India in a planned and phased manner to reduce the annually increasing rental liability."
This amount for 2010-11 is R375 crore. It was Rs 400 crore in 2009-10 and Rs 300 crore the year before that.
In 2009-10, Indian mission in Rome paid the highest rental at Rs 2.8 crore followed closely by Toronto, which paid Rs 1.7 crore.
While the mission is Sydney paid Rs 1.6 crore, Tokyo, Munich, and Doha paid Rs 1.4 crore.
The missions in Astana and Hongkong paid Rs 1.3 crore each.
The highest rentals in 2008-09 was paid by Tokyo at Rs 3.4 crore followed by Rome at Rs 2.5 crore.