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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Chandigarh MC councillors away on religious tour or sight-seeing trip?

Left for Leh for a five-day trip to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Pathar Sahib in light of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, but have been undertaking excursions around the town since Wednesday.

cities Updated: Sep 28, 2019 01:09 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Mayor Rajesh Kumar Kalia with MC councillors after water rafting in Leh on Wednesday. The tour has been organised at an expense of ₹11 lakh.
Mayor Rajesh Kumar Kalia with MC councillors after water rafting in Leh on Wednesday. The tour has been organised at an expense of ₹11 lakh.(HT Photo)
         

The five-day Leh tourof 24 councillors, planned to visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, has turned out to be a mere sight-seeing trip.

Not only the gurdwara, the group, including mayor Rajesh Kumar Kalia, visited several tourist places, not part of the original itinerary.

The group had reached the scenic town via air on Tuesday.

On Friday, HT accessed pictures of a group of councillors posing merrily behind Sangam Lake, 50km from Leh, hours after paying obeisance at the gurdwara on Wednesday. Several councillors, including the mayor, also did water rafting.

The next day on Thursday, all councillors, except Raj Bala Malik, Chandravati Shukla and Heera Negi, who were hospitalised after breathing troubles, left for Nubra Valley, about 150km from Leh town.

A councillor, not wishing to be named, said fellow travellers Ravinder Kaur Gujral and Sheela Phul Singh were also admitted to a local army hospital in Nubra Valley as they felt uneasy due to lack of oxygen.

After staying the night at Nubra, the group travelled to other tourist places like Pangong Lake on Friday before returning to Leh.  

ONLY GURDWARA VISIT ON PLAN, MAYOR, DEPUTY MAYOR HAD CLAIMED

Before leaving for the tour on Tuesday, the mayor and senior deputy mayor Hardeep Singh told the media that this trip was meant only to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Pathar Sahib in light of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. MC commissioner KK Yadav had granted permission for the tour after a panel headed by Hardeep insisted on visiting the gurdwara.

Significantly, pictures released by the MC public relations department on Friday only showed the councillors in front of the gurdwara, not revealing the other excursions undertaken on the tax payers’ money.

Otherwise struggling due to empty coffers, MC spent ₹11 lakh on the trip, including ₹4 lakh on air tickets. Besides, two tempo travellers and one SUV were hired to take them to other locations around Leh.  

RTI activist RK Garg said this tour had exposed councillors’ real face before city residents. “The UT administration must recover the expenses from the councillors,” he added.

In 2014, MC had recovered ₹9,000 each from the councillors after they took their family members on an official study tour to Andaman, Kolkata and Chennai.

First Published: Sep 28, 2019 01:09 IST

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