Chandigarh MC splurged Rs 50 lakh on study tours in 4 years
In 2014-15, the expenditure went up to Rs 28 lakh, with councillors also taking along family members on study tours to Kolkata, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chennai and Bengaluru in two groups.punjab Updated: Dec 13, 2017 10:19 IST
Amid an impending financial crisis, it has come to light that the Chandigarh municipal corporation splurged Rs 50 lakh on study tours in the past four years.
Highlighting this wastage of public money, a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India also found irregularities in the conduct of study tours.
The 2016-17 report for submitted recently stated that in 2013-14, councillors went on study tours to various cities and spent around Rs 9 lakh. In 2014-15, the expenditure went up to Rs 28 lakh, with councillors also taking along family members on study tours to Kolkata, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chennai and Bengaluru in two groups.
The report further states that as study tours are conducted to bring about improvement in the existing infrastructure and facilities for the betterment of citizens or for implementing a new project of public interest, the reports should be submitted within 10 days.
However, in the case of the Chandigarh MC, reports were not submitted even after three months, no improvement was made in the existing facilities and no new project was started, it said, adding that it resulted in Chandigarh “lagging behind far back in the race of the cleanest city of India”.
Calling the expenditure made on these study tours “unfruitful”, the report also questioned as to how nine councillors took along family members and didn’t submit the expenses incurred.
Even in April this year, councillors went to various cities in South India in three groups at an expense of Rs 18 lakh.
They claimed that they studied functioning of garbage processing plant, door-to-door collection of garbage and modern techniques to clean sewer lines besides decentralised tertiary treated water supply system. However, on the ground, no improvement can be seen in the city so far.
Irregularities in fire branch too
The CAG report has also found irregularities in the civic body’s fire branch. The report states that for the year 2016-17, the MC allocated Rs 63 crore to the branch for procuring equipment and vehicles besides carrying out construction works, but only Rs 1.18 crore were spent.
Meanwhile, there is an acute shortage of staff in the department as of 587 sanctioned posts, 356 are vacant. Even the infrastructure is not up to the Standing Fire Advisory Council (SFAC) standards, says the report. Two more fire stations were to come up in the city, there are no soundproof watch rooms in fire stations to attend to emergency calls, most vehicles are old and condemned and even mock drill towers are not available in fire stations are other concerns the audit raises.
The report adds that there are no modern training aids and sophisticated equipment as per the National Disasters Management guidelines of April 2012.
Exercise in futility
■ 2013: In November, the then mayor, Subhash Chawla, then commissioner VP Singh and then executive engineer Rajesh Bansal visited Israel on a study tour to improve water and tertiary treated water supply. Rs 8 lakh were spent, but nothing came out of it.
■ 2014: Councillors went on a nine-day study tour to Port Blair, Chennai and Kolkata in August-September after spending Rs 28 lakh. The MC prepared a vague report and posted it on its website. The content was found to be ‘lifted verbatim’ from the websites of Chennai and Kolkata MCs.
■ 2017: After a gap of more than two years, 32 councillors and officers went to Mumbai, Pune and Vishakhapatnam in three groups in April this year. Rs 18 lakh were spent on the tours meant to study sanitation and improve water supply. But nothing worked out.