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Chandigarh cadre IAS officers splurged Rs 60 lakh from SPIC funds on foreign jaunts, says audit report

The officers visited three countries – Paris (France), Barcelona ( Spain) and Germany — using the capacity building funds and spent around Rs 60 lakh.

punjab Updated: Oct 12, 2018 12:06 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times
IAS,Chandigarh,Society for Promotion of Information and Technology
Prince Dhawan and SB Deepak Kumar (left to right)(HT File)

The local audit department has raised objections on the foreign visits of officers of the Society for Promotion of Information and Technology (SPIC), wherein ₹60 lakh have been spent in the past three years.

The amount for these long jaunts, involving “unjustified” overstay, was spent out of the SPIC funds.

SPIC has been set up under the aegis of the department of information technology, UT administration, for implementing various plans to promote IT industry in Chandigarh.

The report from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2018, submitted recently, stated that officers of the society visited three countries – Paris (France), Barcelona ( Spain) and Germany — using the capacity building funds and spent around ₹60 lakh.

The two Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers in question — both belonging to the UT cadre — have since moved out of the Chandigarh Administration on routine transfers.

Paris: Sept 2015

SB Deepak Kumar, who was the then SPIC president, visited Paris for the ‘Smart Countries and Cities Congress’ from September 1 to 3, 2015, and spent around ₹18 lakh.

The audit stated the stay was not justified as the officer overstayed till September 7. The officer even got daily allowance of ₹40,000 till September 7 even as the conference ended on September 3. Moreover, despite the daily allowance, the officer purchased a Euro travel card for ₹4 lakh.

Barcelona: Nov 2015

SB Deepak Kumar and another UT IAS officer, Prince Dhawan, who was the then SPIC chief executive officer (CEO), visited Barcelona on another smart city expo from November 17 to 19, 2015, and spent around ₹10 lakh.

The report found that the officers overstayed for six days and got a daily allowance of ₹1.15 lakh for the nine-day visit. The officers again purchased a Euro travel card worth ₹2 lakh despite being paid the daily allowance. They also paid ₹69,000 for Eurail Global pass, even as the registration fee included local conveyance, the report said.

Germany: March 2016

SB Deepak Kumar and Prince Dhawan visited Germany from March 14 to 18, 2016, for a ‘Make in India’ event and spent around ₹29 lakh. The officer overstayed eight days and even visited Rome in Italy and spent ₹14 lakh from SPIC funds.

The exhibition and conference fee of ₹1 lakh was paid out of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) account of SPIC instead of the capacity building fund account. The report pointed out that travel expenses of two extra members, amounting to ₹2.63 lakh, given to the travel agency, were returned after a gap of seven months.

Also both officers bought travel cards amounting to ₹6 lakh despite getting the daily allowance of ₹1.35 lakh.

Arjun Sharma, who is the present CEO of SPIC, said: “I have not read the report yet. I will comment only once I go through it.”

First Published: Oct 12, 2018 12:04 IST

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