Sujay Mehdudia

Such instances make light of Congress president's directive on austerity

A case in point: Recent instance of a "junket" in Jaipur Latest instance: 50 per cent waiver on power, water bills of IAS, DANICS officers

NEW DELHI: As the rising price line and increased cost of living in the Capital has upset many a household budget, the bureaucracy and the political leadership in the Delhi Government continue to squander the tax payers hard-earned money.

Political observers here are of the view that ostentatious and lavish spending by those in power in the Congress Government in the Capital coupled with the doling out of "unwarranted concessions" to the officialdom has not only put a question mark over the manner in which the public money is misused but has also made light of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's directive to the Congress Chief Ministers, Ministers and MLAs to refrain from extravagant expenses and maintain simplicity in public life.

The recent instance of 80-odd senior officials of the Education Department taking off for a "junket" to Jaipur and then organising a lavish party in a five-star hotel in Delhi without any proper sanction and approval has shown the Government in poor light. What is more surprising is the unabashed justification of this expenditure by Director (Education) Vijay Kumar given by Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is learnt to have termed the whole controversy as "unnecessary".

Another instance that continues to draw critical reference is the massive expenditure incurred on the 11-minute presentation made at the Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne in March this year. It is learnt that around Rs. 40 crores was spent on this lavish arrangement by the Delhi Government where socialites, film stars, part-time dancers, fashion designers, MLAs and Ministers were present along with Ms. Dikshit and Indian Olympics Association president Suresh Kalmadi.

No enquiry

The Deputy Speaker of Delhi Assembly, Shoaib Iqbal, had raised a hue and cry over the issue and demanded an inquiry into the incident. However nothing has come out of it. "It is a common knowledge that an event management company run by the wife of a senior All-India Congress Committee leader was paid huge sums for arranging the event despite objections from officials. If the list of those who travelled on Delhi Government and IOA's expense is made public, it could seriously embarrass those in power. Interestingly the file pertaining to the Rs. 40-crore expenditure was moved by the Urban Development Department of the Delhi Government rather than the Tourism or Culture Department.

The latest instance of Delhi Cabinet offering 50 per cent waiver on power and water bills of IAS and DANICS officers is another indication of the lack of sensitivity on part of the Delhi Government.

"While lakhs of consumers are struggling to cope up with fast running meters, inflated bills and rising cost of power and water supply, this move to give 50 per cent discount to bureaucrats is not only ill-timed but also bad administration," a senior Minister remarked.