Two non-expert senior Punjab officers got a bang out of holidaying in Switzerland as part of a technical team inspecting the high-end equipment required for four shooting ranges.
The officers — Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s technical adviser, Lt Gen BS Dhaliwal (retd) and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal’s special principal secretary Manvesh Singh Sidhu (from the Indian Administrative Service) —were in Zurich from June 8 to 12 but at SIUS Ascor shooting-equipment company for only a few hours out of those days. With them were Punjab sports director Rahul Gupta, Punjab Institute of Sports director Sukhvir Grewal, and shooting coaches Dilip Singh Chandel and Gurjit Singh.
The Punjab government has bought electronic laser targets worth Rs 2.5 crore for the ranges at SAS Nagar, Punjab Armed Police campus in Jalandhar, and the CM’s Badal village, besides trap and skeet machines worth Rs 56 lakh for Talwara village in Ludhiana district.
Last year, the Punjab sports department had floated a global tender for equipment approved by the ISSF (international governing body of the sport), and only the Swiss company had applied. It was required to fly a technical team to its factory and the cost was included in the Rs 3-crore tender. Six people, most of them not related to shooting, took the four-day trip.
“They (Sidhu and lieutenant general Dhaliwal) are involved in the buying procedure since the beginning, so they were in Switzerland to study the related files,” said Punjab sports director Rahul Gupta, adding: “Lieutenant general Dhaliwal is technical adviser to the CM and all files to the CM and his deputy go through his hands. This was a technical matter, so his travelling was required.”
The SIUS Ascor equipment was installed in Kerala last year for National Games. So, the Zurich tour wasn’t even required. The team could have just gone to Kerala and bargained with the company for the trip amount (about `10 lakh).
Justifying the trip, Gupta said, “The cost was included in the tender and has no bearing on the project expenses.” Asked if the Punjab sports department had plans to import the equipment for other sport, too, and send more officers to factories abroad, the sports director said: “If required, yes.”