Members of the Legislative Assembly Committee on Government Assurances have decided to go on a study tour of Australia and New Zealand in mid-May.
The committee, headed by Tanvir Sait, former Minister and Congress MLA, on Wednesday chaired a meeting at the Legislators’ Home and discussed the tour dates, plans and programmes. The committee, which primarily discussed programmes of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department following severe drinking water shortage in various districts of the State, also discussed the tour programme. With the entry of mediapersons to the conference hall of the Legislators’ Home, the committee abruptly ended the discussion on the foreign tour. The legislators, who were involved in hectic election campaigning, have planned to go on a tour after the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results.
The other members of the committee are Siddu B. Nyamegouda, Eshwar Khandre, M.K. Somashekhar, Kashappanavar Vijayananda Shivashankarappa, T. Raghumurthy, H.C. Balakrishna, Mallikarjun S. Khuba, M.J. Appaji, Y.S.V. Datta, Duryodana Mahalingappa Aihole, Vishwanath Anand C. Mamani, Arvind Chandrakanth Bellad, K.S. Puttanaiah and U.B. Banakar.
Mr. Datta of the Janata Dal (Secular) told the media that he was not interested in going abroad at a time when several parts of the State are reeling under severe drought and facing drinking water shortage. “I had not gone on foreign tours earlier. I am not interested in one now. My priority is to tackle the drinking water crisis in my constituency,” he said.
An official of the Assembly Secretariat told The Hindu that Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa has constituted a committee to frame guidelines for foreign tours of legislators. The panel had not yet framed the guidelines. Moreover, the Speaker’s office has not received any request for a study tour abroad from the Committee on Government Assurances, the official said.
Mallikayya V. Guttedar, who heads the Assembly Committee on Estimates, said that the committee has plans to tour aboard, but nothing was finalised. “My first ambition is to become a Minister in the Congress government ,” he said.
Legislators’ study tours abroad had come under sharp criticism from the Opposition and the public on the grounds that tours were being undertaken when the State was reeling under drought. As many as 125 taluks have been declared drought-hit.
Members of the Legislature Committee for the Welfare of Backward Classes and Minorities, headed B.R. Yavagal, visited a few countries in January and defended the tour. Besides air tickets, each one of the MLAs is eligible to avail himself of allowances for accommodation and travelling. Members can be accompanied by officers of the Legislative Assembly Secretariat.