Tuesday, November 21

Punjab bureaucrats on overseas flying binge

At a time when the Punjab Government was struggling to fill its empty coffers, some bureaucrats continued their extravagant spree of flying around the globe at the cost of the taxpayers' money, reports Satinder Bains in The Pioneer.

Two senior IAS officers PK Verma, former Financial Commissioner (Development), and Himmat Singh, Managing Director of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) ended up spending over Rs 50 lakh on about 20 foreign jaunts claiming about 20 per cent of the total amount of Rs 2.83 crore spent by about 50 bureaucrats in the past about four years.
Himmat Singh alone cost the State exchequer a whopping Rs 43,62,178 on 14 visits to countries like France, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, Holland, Germany, Italy and South Africa. He was accompanied by Verma on five visits. All their expenses were borne by the PAIC. Himmat Singh and Verma had visited France in May 2003 to settle certain legal dispute with M/s Red Bridge holding company that cost the State exchequer about Rs 8 lakh. The two officers travelled around the world for marketing agro products like fresh juices and vegetables, processed food, peanuts/ground nuts for confectionery etc. They also claimed to have surveyed the foreign markets to bring latest technology for agro industry.
Arun Goel, who remained Managing Director of Punjab Small Scale Industry and Export Corporation (PSIEC), made seven trips for export promotion to countries like Australia, Brazil, Chilly, Paraguay, Columbia, Venezuela, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Kenya and Malaysia. The State spent Rs 23,14,205 on his visits abroad, out which Rs 17,97,000 were paid by PSIEC and the remaining paid by the Sports department when he remained Secretary Sports for a short stint.
He watched ICC World Cricket Cup in 2003 in South Africa at Government expense that amounted to Rs 2,22,691.
He also watched Busan (UK) Games in November 2002 that cost Rs 2,94,514. Goel spent another Rs 1,85,000 when he attended the Handloom Weaving Training Project in Kenya even while the handloom industry in Punjab has almost vanished.
Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi, another senior IAS officer who has been holding charge of the department of Information Technology for a long time and is also Managing Director of Punjab Infotech, cost the State exchequer Rs 20,65,793 on nine foreign visits to the USA, Canada, China, Dubai, Singapore, Australia, the UK, Atlanta and Germany.
Kalsi's entire expense was charged to Infotech and the reasons he cited for visits were again to market Punjab for foreign investment in IT industry. He also accompanied the Chief Minister on a few visits during the 'Made in Punjab' campaign held in the USA and Canada.
DS Jaspal, the high profile IAS officer who handled the departments of Information and Public Relations besides CEO Ananadpur Sahib Foundation, cost the State Rs 15,06,635 on six visits to the USA, Canada, besides Geneva, the UK and Pakistan.
Of the total State expense incurred on Jaspal, Ananadpur Sahib Foundation paid Rs 11,49,721 since his visits were aimed at fund raising from NRIs for the Khalsa Heritage Complex at Ananadpur Sahib. Geetika Kalha, DS Kalha and Romila Dubey during short stint at the Foundation also made one visit each for fund raising for the Khalsa heritage.
KR Lakhanpal, Chief Secretary of Punjab, made only four visits abroad, of which three were as Chief Secretary, for which the State spent Rs 14,57,927 when he went to Thailand, Singapore, Bangkok, Australia, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, the UK and the USA for short durations.
Sarvesh Kaushal, Principal Secretary of School Education, when he was Secretary Sports 2004 went to see Olympic Games at Athens (Greece) at Government expense. His two trips cost Rs 6,05,621 to the State Government.
DS Bains, Principal Secretary of Animal Husbandry visited Dubai, Egypt, Pakistan and Canada to procure high quality semen. JS Maini, resident commissioner, Delhi, has made two trips to the US and Canada and spent about Rs.8 lakh.
Some of the other Boards and Corporations paid for the foreign tours of IAS officers. The corporations included Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, Punjab School Education Board, PUDA, Punjab Mandi Board and Punjab State Electricity Board.
The other prominent officers who enjoyed the foreign jaunts included Vishwajit Khanna, SS Channy, Rajan Kashyap, Gurbinder Kaur Chahal, GS Sandhu, Suresh Kumar, Vini Mahajan, A Venu Parsad, SS Puri, Vivek Partap Singh, Jaspreet Talwar, AR Talwar, Kusamjit Sidhu, Ravneet Kaur, SC Aggarwal, Sanjay Kumar, SS Rajput, Iqbal Singh Sidhu, RC Nayyar, Amitabh Pandey, KAP Sinha, RPS Pawar, TR Sarangal, Narinderjit Singh, Roshan Sankaria,GS Cheema and Som Parkash.


Anonymous said...

Please re-check your facts about Mr. Sarvesh Kaushal. He visited Greece only once, and for 7 - 8 days only. The expenditure account given in your article is at least 4 times more than the actual in Mr Kaushal's case. It appears you have included the expenditure on the foreign tour of the Minister and Director Sports and others in Mr. Kaushal's account. On his return, Mr. Kaushal submitted an elaborate report to the Punjab Cabinet regarding Sports Infrastructure and Policy needs in the State, and also utilised his organisational experience in the capacity of Director General of the First International Indo Pak Punjab Games at Patiala. Mr. Kaushal, in his 25 years of service in the IAS, has visited abroad only 4 times, twice on Government of India delegations, once for 5 days to U.K.accompanying a Minister and once for a week to Greece as Secretary Sports. He is the one of the least foreign travelled IAS officer in India, his foreign trips having a frequency of once in 6 to 7 years.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sarvesh Kaushal has NEVER EVER visited USA or CANADA even once in his life, privately or officially till today.

Anonymous said...

Satinder Bains has joined Pioneer after ages of professional exile. He should be careful in reporting facts for the sake of his own credibility, and that of his newspaper !