Friday, April 17, 2009

Blatant misuse of Government funds

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu led an all party delegation on Dec 4th to Delhi to meet the PM on the issue of the troubles faced by Sri Lankan Tamils due to the war waged by Sri Lanka against the LTTE. It is now the norm that all parties shed crocodile tears for them. This is obvious from how the CM initially threatened that all his MPs will resign and then later backtracked. Such posturing and tokenism is not uncommon with politicians. But then, if such posturing is made by using public money, that is just not acceptable. And that is what precisely happened in this case. On 31st Dec 2008, I had filed an RTI application asking whether the government had borne the expenses for this all party trip and if so the expenses incurred and the members who travelled as a part of the delegation.

As expected, the expenses were indeed borne by the government.

Totally 17 people had been part of the delegation. They were,

1. Mr.M.Karunanidhi, Chief Minister - DMK
2. Mr.K.Anbazhagan, Finance Minister - DMK
3. K.Abdul Basid, MLA - DMK
4. Mr.Sudarsanam, Legislative Party Leader - INC
5. Mr.Thirumavalavan, General Secretary - VCK
6. Dr.K.Krishnaswamy - Puthiya Thamizhagam Party
7. Mr.Tiruppur Altaf, General Secretary - Tamil Nadu National League.
8. Mr. S.Hyder Ali, President - TN Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam
9. Mr.Poovai Jaganmoorthy, President - Puratchi Bharatham
10. Bishop Esra Sarkunam, President - Indian Social Justice Iyakkam
11. Mr.P.V.Kathiravan - Forward Block
12. Mr.K.Sellamuthu, President - Uzhavar Uzhaippaliar Party
13. Mr.K.Veeramani, President - Dravidar Kazhagam
14. Mrs.Rathika Sarathkumar- All India Samathuva Makkal Party
15. Mr.Vijaya T.Rajendar, President - Latchiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
16. Mr.R.M.Veerappan, President - M.G.R.Kazhagam.
17. Mr.Jagathratchagan, Founder - Democratic Progressive Party (Jananayaka Munnetra Kazhagam)

The total expenses incurred for the delegation vist were Rs.13,83,228. That comes to an average of Rs.81,366 per head

The split up is

Air Travel = 11,55,835
Transport = 1,36,351
Boarding = 66,259
Misccellaneous expenditure = 24,783.

My questions are,
1. Why should the government fund these expenses? It is not a governmental visit, but a political visit. It is plain misuse of public money.

2. Of those who were part of the delegation, parties like AISMK and Latchiya DMK have not faced any elections so far. I have not even heard of parties like Uzhavar Uzhaippaliar Party and Indian Social Justice Iyakkam. Moreover, if I am right, TN Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, was not even a political party in Dec 2008 and registered as one only in 2009. Then on what basis are they eligible to be funded by public money?

3. The worst part is the quantum of expenses. The visit to Delhi and back costs Rs.81,366 per head. Air travel alone comes to 68,000 per head. This is outrageous. Looks like everybody, including people who are not MLAs, representatives of parties which have never faced elections and representatives of groups that are not even political parties, has flown business class at the expense of the tax payer. An economy class ticket from Chennai to Delhi will cost in the range of Rs. 3000 one way. That means instead of spending just Rs.6,000, they have spent close to 70,000 for the tickets. Also the transport expenses come to 1,36,351. Where all did they move around in Delhi, that the transport expenses came to this much.

I think it is plain and blatant misuse of public money. The government has no right to waste hard earned money of the citizens paid to the government as taxes. The government should ensure the money is recovered from each one of them and also ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.

This was covered in the Indian Express today. It can be seen here. Though the point they raised is not the one I intended. The article says that 14 lakhs went down the drain because the visit did not achieve anything. But my point is something else. Even if the visit were successflul my argument is that most of the people who were part of the delagation did not representethe citizens in anyway. and hence public money cannot fund their travel. That too business class travel. I am sure that, if not for the fact that government money is funding the trip, most of them would have chosen economy class. Public money is considered as something that nobody needs to be bothered about. That is where the problem starts.


Raghu said...

you are absolutely right.... but unfortunately most of the people dont think in these terms...

Ronald Abraham said...

Madhav, was reading your blog today... Awesome work! :)

The sad fact is that this is just one instance, I shudder at the thought of the various types of bungling. I wonder how much it cost the Government, when DMK members were constantly flying between Chennai and Delhi to beg for cabinet berths.