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Parliamentary panel wants probe into ITDC divestment

The panel states that it is painful to note that the role of ITDC in the disinvestment process is limited, reports Hemendra Singh Bartwal.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 23:57 IST

The NDA government's move to disinvest several ITDC hotels has come in for severe criticism from a parliamentary standing committee which has recommended an independent enquiry to bring to light the entire sequence of disinvestment of various properties and the "reasons" for the decision.

Concluding that disinvestment of its hotels had "crippled" the ITDC which was doing well earlier, the parliamentary committee on transport , tourism and culture has also recommended in its report that the probe should find out what was the "end use" of the money collected from the process.

"The Committee feels that the sale proceeds of Rs 429.24 crore from disinvestment of 18 hotels, including one hotel that was under construction, should have been handed over to ITDC for revitalising and reviving. (Had this been done) the position could have been different and ITDC could have been able to generate internal resources for setting things right," said the report which was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Friday.

The panel, headed by CPI-M MP Sitaram Yechury, also stated that it was pained to note that the role of ITDC in the disinvestment process was limited to providing information and data to the Advisor, ministries of disinvestment and tourism, and to implement the government's decision.

The country's apex tourism body was not given an opportunity for making a presentation before the Disinvestment Commission or pleading its case.

"The Committee strongly denounces the move of the government for not giving any opportunity to the ITDC for being heard before disinvestment of its properties although it was performing well," the report said.

However, eight members of the parliamentary committee , from the BJP and its ally parties, sent a strong note of dissent to Chairman Yechury dissociating themselves from the report and alleging that it suffered from a "clear bias" .They charged that the report aimed at casting "aspersions" against the previous government on the disinvestment issue.

Significantly, in October, the Supreme Court upheld the divestment of ITDC's Hotel Agra Ashok saying it did not find fault with the NDA government's decision to privatise it.

It was a policy decision and "not in any manner contrary to the law of the land," a two-judge bench observed in their ruling on a petition filed by the All India ITDC Workers' Union and employees of the hotel who challenged the decision to sell it.

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First Published: Dec 15, 2006 23:57 IST