Is there a need for the legislature committee to visit foreign countries?
Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information has pointed to the wasteful expenses on the foreign tours undertaken by members of Karnataka Legislature committees and officials. The reply indicates that these tours were mere pleasure trips at the cost of benefit tax-payers money with no benefit to the state.
Dr C Nithyananda Pai, Puttur-based RTI activist, had filed an application seeking information about the previous foreign tours by the legislature. He desired to know details of the foreign tours, members who took part in the jaunts, copies of study-tour reports and projects, schemes or best practices that were implemented in the state based on the recommendations of these reports etc. It has been revealed that previous Karnataka government conducted two study tours to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Dubai at a cost of Rs. 9 Crore.
Out of the 14 Legislature committees, 11 committees took part in the study-tours and 7 have submitted a report to the speaker. The reply has shown that none of the best practices recommended to the government were implemented so far. Pai has criticised the quality of reports submitted to Speaker which are said to be ordinary with no tangible inputs. Sample of a few reports submitted by the committees is given below:-
· the Leaning tower of Pisa’s tilt is at 0.04 degrees and would crash one day blissfully unaware of the fact that the tower was straightened by 16 inches and would not crash for the next 300 years.
· people in India, like the UK, should stop expecting everything for free.
· construction of a railway station in the Himalayas on the lines of Jungfraujoch (Europe’s highest railway station) after would attract more tourists.
The RTI applicant has pointed that as per the guidelines, upto three officials can accompany the Committee but as many as seven officials, including personal assistant of the speaker, deputy speaker had accompanied the members. Examples of similar visits by MLA’s / MP’s/ officials in other states and centre are galore which calls for a review of the policy of visiting the foreign countries.