A team of 12 legislators returned to Bangalore after a 17-day study tour abroad. Despite public criticism against the “study tour”, members of the Committee on Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare visited Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The committee is headed by B.R Yavagal, MLA representing Nargund constituency in Gadag district.

The MLAs flew back to the city early on Thursday via Hong Kong. Members of the panel maintained that they visited farms, dairies and institutes.

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly H.D. Kumaraswamy had condemned the foreign tour at a time when the State was facing severe drought.

A total of 98 taluks have been declared drought-hit in the State.

Mr. Kumaraswamy had advised his party legislators to fund their study tours and not at the cost of the State exchequer.

However, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara defended the study tour stating there was “nothing wrong in going abroad for study”.

A committee on public sector enterprises had gone abroad and returned a few days ago.

An official of the State Legislative Assembly said that the MLAs would submit a detailed report on the tour to Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa.

Meanwhile, study tours of other panels have been put on hold following a public outcry.

Yavagal defends tour

Chairman of the legislature committee for the welfare of the backward classes and minorities, B.R. Yavagal, who returned from an official study tour to three countries, defended the concept of study tour for legislators.

Mr. Yavagal, who toured Australia, New Zealand and Fiji along with several other legislators from December 24 and returned to Bangalore on Thursday, wondered why there was an effort to portray them in a poor light just because they had undertaken a legally permitted study tour.

“There is a practice of sending legislators on study tours to foreign countries twice during their term of five years. It has been in existence for the last seven to eight years and has all the clearances and legal backing. We have not done anything illegal to be criticised,” he said.

He said they had studied the issues and schemes related to socio-economic and educational development in these countries. He particularly referred to the possibility of using dairy farming for the economic wellbeing of the oppressed sections and said the committee would submit a report on its tour in about a month from now.

He said of the 20 members from his committee, 10 had been part of the foreign tour, while two members from another legislature committee too joined them.

More In: Karnataka | National