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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Foreign-tour expenses: Cong seeks white paper

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, January 15, 2014
First Published: 22:31 IST(15/1/2014) | Last Updated: 22:33 IST(15/1/2014)

A white paper on all foreign-tour expenses is what Punjab Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Wednesday demanded from the Punjab government.

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He wants the chief minister, deputy CM, and other members of the cabinet to declare every dime spent on official foreign tours in the past seven years of the Akali regime. "Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his so-called delegation of officers spent a whopping Rs. 22 lakh of taxpayers' money on a 10-day tour to China in April 2011," said Khaira, demanding that the government should explain.

Information secured under the Right To Information (RTI) Act suggested that the purpose of the China tour was to explore the possibilities of generating electricity from biomass using the rice-straw combustion technology, and employing low-head system for hydel energy. "The state exchequer spent Rs. 22 lakh, yet no deal was signed. It was a fruitless tour, for holiday merely, fun in China for 10 days on public expense," said Khaira.

The leader claims to have sought details of all official foreign tours the deputy CM had joined since March 2007 but received information about only one. "The CM and his deputy have visited many foreign shores and made lofty statements to replicate different projects running in developed countries. I remember them promising dairy revolution after visiting Israel, rapid transport system after going to Turkey, a new system of garbage collection after the Dubai trip, and agriculture and horticulture technologies after the South American tour," said the Congress leader.

"The Badals cannot list even one project implemented or anything achieved from the foreign tours," he added.

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