Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal’s single round trip to Haryana in June, which cost over Rs 46 lakh, was approved by the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the state government, The Indian Express reported on Thursday, citing a Right to Information reply from the governor’s secretariat.
Copies of the letters from the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the state government, which were accessed by The Indian Express, do not mention why the trip was approved.
The expense is four times the Raj Bhavan’s current annual budget of Rs 11 lakh for Lal’s travel and has exceeded total tour expenses incurred over five years by his predecessor SC Jamir, according to the RTI reply. It showed that the total tour expenses of Jamir, between April 2013 and March 2018, was around Rs 30.72 lakh. The travel expense incurred by Jamir’s predecessor, Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, from August 2007 to March 2013 was Rs 51.21 lakh.
The Raj Bhavan also said that, as governors, Jamir and Bhandare used commercial passenger airlines on “all tours”. “Travel expenses of the governor of Odisha outside the state are paid from the tour head, Charged Budgetary Provision of Government of Odisha,” the Raj Bhavan said in the reply.
Lal, who is a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Haryana, had used a chartered aircraft to reach Delhi and then a helicopter to visit his hometown Sirsa after he took over the office in May, PTI quoted a Raj Bhavan official as saying.
In July, the Odisha government’s General Administration Department had written to the governor’s office seeking an explanation for hiring a helicopter in deviation of the approved flight schedule. The letter mentioned two invoices from June – one for a chartered jet used for a round trip to Delhi, and a helicopter to visit Sirsa in Haryana. According to the letter, the chartered flight cost Rs 41.18 lakh and the helicopter Rs 5 lakh.
A senior official in the Raj Bhavan said Lal had requested a chartered aircraft for a “special tour”. “The chartered plane was unable to land in Sirsa, for which the service provider offered a helicopter from Delhi at an additional Rs 5 lakh,” the official said.