Staff Correspondent

The trip has evoked criticism as the State is facing an agrarian crisis

C.S. Puttaraju from Pandavapura has declined the offer

He wants to concentrate on development works

MYSORE: While a majority of the 225 MLAs and 75 MLCs have opted for the study tour to China, C.S. Puttaraju, a first-time MLA from Pandavapura Assembly Constituency in Mandya district, has declined the offer as his conscience did not permit him to travel when farmers are committing suicide in the State because of the agrarian crisis.

The China junket has evoked criticism as the trip comes at a time when the State is reeling under floods and drought. While this did not stop other legislators from visiting China, Mr. Puttaraju skipped the visit. He has decided to make use of the money which the Government was to spend on his tour for the people who are facing problem in his constituency.

He told The Hindu that he wrote a letter to the Speaker Krishna and Chief Secretary to release the money that was supposed to be spent on him for the development of his constituency. “I wanted to make use of the money for purchasing plates, tumblers and other utensils required for preparing and serving midday meal to poor children in various schools of my constituency,” he said.

There are 182 primary schools with 15,003 students and 21 high schools with 5,307 students and a few composite junior colleges which are covered under the midday meal scheme in the constituency, according to sources in the Department of Education.

Many primary and high schools were facing shortage of plates, tumblers and other utensils and additional funds would help in addressing the problem, Mr. Puttaraju said.

He, however, clarified that he was against the study tour as the State was facing a problem. He was not against Ministers and other legislators visiting China. It is significant to note that he managed to bring funds for the development of his constituency in his first term as legislator. He is hoping to get Rs. 6 lakh for not going to China.

There may be other reasons for Mr. Puttaraju to decide against visiting China. He might have dropped his plans to join other legislators in view of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy visiting Pandavapura on August 31 to launch development programmes worth Rs. 100 crore, according to his detractors.

However, refuting this, Mr. Puttaraju said that he would have not accepted the offer even otherwise.

Nevertheless, Mr. Puttaraju is disappointed as the Speaker has turned down the demand of legislators who declined the Government’s invitation to visit China. He reportedly said that the Government had set aside a certain sum for MLAs’ expenses during the tour and it was not an allocation or a fund that could be distributed as there was no provision for it.

Development works

However, Mr. Puttaraju is happy as Mr. Kumaraswamy will inaugurate works worth Rs. 40 crore and lay foundation stone for works to be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs. 65 crore. “The Chief Minister will inaugurate a bus stand constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.50 crore,” he said.

Mr. Kumaraswamy would lay foundation stones for a bus depot coming up at a cost of Rs. 1.75 crore, a Suvarna Karnataka Kala Mandira (Rs. 80 crore) and a fire station (Rs. 1.64 crore). “He will perform ground-breaking ceremony for the underground drainage work estimated at Rs. 10 crore and the work on providing drinking water to 36 villages,” he said.