The Commonwealth Games have come as a godsend for travel-happy officials. It has now been disclosed that Sports Ministry officials made nearly 90 foreign visits in last four years in "preparation" for the sports mega-event. These trips cost the ministry nearly Rs 92 lakhs.
In reply to an RTI application seeking details of foreign visits by various Ministry officials "in preparation of
Commonwealth Games", the ministry listed 87 visits undertaken by its officials during the period 2005-2009.
The most frequent travellers were Joint Secretary S Krishnan who went abroad 11 times in a two year period between
2005-07, Joint Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar who made 10 foreign trips between 2007-09, and Joint Secretary I Srinivas with eight visits. The Ministry Secretary S K Arora went abroad seven times.
The destinations visited include countries such as Cuba, China, Kuwait and South Korea which are not even part of the
RTI applicant Abhishek Shukla had sought details of expenses, including cost of ticket, hotel stay and local
travel, which the ministry refused to provide.
In reply to the RTI application, Under Secretary H M Kundlia expressed his inability to specify even the purpose of
the trips and local expenses.
Instead, the ministry provided the consolidated expenditure on these visits, including Rs 5.35 lakhs spent on
Additional Secretary S Krishnan's trip to Cuba.
Some of the expenses listed raise further questions since Joint Secretary S Krishnan's visit to Spain is shown as
costing only Rs 3,375, while the visit of Section Officer K K Paul is shown as having incurred an expense of Rs 10,463.