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Public interest? Badals’ air trips fail to convince CAG In 10 years, SAD-BJP govt spent Rs 157 cr on copter rides

December 26, 2018 05:09 AM


Public interest? Badals’ air trips fail to convince CAG
In 10 years, SAD-BJP govt spent Rs 157 cr on copter rides
Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25

Almost two years after they were voted out of power, the numerous chopper trips made by the Badals to their farmhouse in Balasar in Haryana, relatives and babas (godmen) — all at the cost of the exchequer — continues to rankle the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Punjab’s Department of Civil Aviation has failed to convince the CAG that these trips, 68 to Badal village, were made in public interest.

Refusing to put a lid on the matter, the CAG, in a note prepared in October, said that the reply by the department was “not satisfactory”.

During its 10-year rule, the Badal government spent Rs 157 crore on copter rides. Besides the Chief Minister, Deputy CM and other members of the family, these were frequently used to ferry BJP’s national leaders to rallies and on two occasions Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living.

Ropar-based RTI activist Dinesh Chadha had, in a complaint, alleged that there was no mention of the purpose of these trips in the bills as well as the copter logbook. Taking cognisance, the CAG ran a test-check of records between 2013 and 2016.

It found that the expenditure on air travel was Rs 26 crore in three years. Subsequently, it sought to know the “public interest” behind these trips, emphasising these were not permitted for “personal interest”.

The officials tried to wash their hands of the matter, saying a helicopter was provided on the orders of the competent authority. Also, the “purpose” was mentioned on the tour note sent for ex-post facto approval. The CAG rejected the replies.

Chadha claimed it was clear the department was hell bent on protecting the Badals, “despite the change of government

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