Chandigarh: 3 IAS officers blew ₹6.72 lakh excess on Paris tour, reveals audit - Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh: 3 IAS officers blew 6.72 lakh excess on Paris tour, reveals audit

By, Chandigarh
Apr 11, 2024 08:58 AM IST

Not just this, without approval, the officers – former Chandigarh adviser Vijay Dev, former UT home secretary Anurag Aggarwal and secretary (personnel) Vikram Dev Dutt – went on a tour that was originally intended for a lower-ranking official – the UT chief architect

Three senior IAS officers spent an excess 6.72 lakh of taxpayer’s money during a trip to Paris in June 2015 by extending their stay and upgrading their hotel accommodation, an audit report by the Director General of Audit (Central), Chandigarh, has flagged.

In 2015, an invitation was received from Foundation Le Corbusier Paris, France, regarding a meeting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of architect Le Corbusier’s death to be held at Villa Savoye in Poissy on June 15. (HT File)
In 2015, an invitation was received from Foundation Le Corbusier Paris, France, regarding a meeting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of architect Le Corbusier’s death to be held at Villa Savoye in Poissy on June 15. (HT File)

Not just this, without approval, the officers – former UT adviser Vijay Dev, former UT home secretary Anurag Aggarwal and secretary (personnel) Vikram Dev Dutt – went on a tour that was originally intended for a lower-ranking official – the UT chief architect.

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In 2015, an invitation was received from Foundation Le Corbusier Paris, France, regarding a meeting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of architect Le Corbusier’s death to be held at Villa Savoye in Poissy on June 15.

A confirmation was sent to Philippe Belaval, president of the Centre for National Monuments, Foundation Le Corbusier, Paris, and a letter was sent to the director, services, ministry of home, Delhi, regarding the grant of cadre clearance for three officers of the Chandigarh administration to attend the one-day meeting.

But the three IAS officers extended the one-day tour to seven days without authorisation. As per rules, in case foreign travel exceeds five days, approval from the screening committee is required, but in this case, no approval was obtained for the seven-day visit, the audit has pointed out.

Also, a secretary-level officer’s visit abroad could only be recommended if the lower-ranking officer was unavailable, says the audit report.

As per the report, the one-day tour was extended to June 12 to 18, 2015, and air travel and hotel bookings were made through a private travel agent.

The audit has raised objections to this, as the air ticket should be procured from an agency authorised by the Government of India only.

By extending the tour, the hotel stay cost rose to 9.10 lakh for the then adviser, meaning 1.51 lakh per night for six nights; and 4.43 lakh for the other two officers, translating to 73,916 per night for six nights.

Later, the officers upgraded their lodging bookings from “Inter-continental Hotel” to “Le Royal Hotel”, shooting up the hotel accommodation cost to 17,97,360, and the unauthorised expenditure to 6,72,284, at cost to the taxpayer.

While Vijay Dev incurred extra expenses of 4.71 lakh, Vikram Dev and Anurag Aggarwal spent 1 lakh excess each, says the report.

Even after repeated attempts, all three officers did not respond to calls and messages.

The audit has also objected that no certificate regarding the visit was obtained from the Union ministry of external affairs. The report states that the initial booking was done on June 8 and the amended bill was procured on July 13, which was almost over a month after the visit.

The report has also highlighted that a participation certificate was not attached to the Travel Allowance (TA) bill. Additionally, it was found that no invoice regarding their stay in Paris was found on record, and payments were made based on bills issued by the agents.

RK Garg, a senior citizen who procured the audit report under the RTI Act, said the CAG should look into the TA bills of all officers who had spent more than 10 lakh per annum on travel in the past five years.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Hillary Victor is a Special Correspondent at Chandigarh. He covers Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and all political parties.

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