No misuse of public funds or arbitrary selection of artistes

Chennai: Secretary of Tourism and Culture V. Irai Anbu has contested journalist Cho's statement saying it carried "the unfounded allegation of misuse of public funds for conducting Chennai Sangamam." Mr. Cho's remarks appeared in these columns on February 27 (Page 3).

Mr. Irai Anbu in a statement said: "Chennai Sangamam is a cultural and literary festival, highlighting native art and literature for promoting tourism. The Tourism Department supported the event to promote inflow of tourists... and provide a new life to such artistes. This kind of festival is organised in several states and the Government of India also sanctions funds to facilitate it.

"The allegation that `Tamil Maiyam' was authorised by the Government to spend limitless money without sanction is totally false. G.O. No. 20, Tourism and Culture Department, dated 13.2.2007 just empowers the Commissioner of Tourism to spend more than the ceiling limit for various items under promotion and publicity of tourism, the maximum being Rs. 3 lakh, earmarked in G.O. no. 207 dated 8.8.1994.

"Except the advertisement on the inaugural function and installation of selected hoardings, no other publicity was done by the Government... Neither funding nor reimbursement of any kind was done by the Tourism Department for the expenditure incurred by `Tamil Maiyam.'

"The amount for cultural events was mobilised by `Tamil Maiyam,' from sponsors and volunteers. No additional amount was sanctioned to the Tourism Department for supporting this event and the department was authorised to incur expenditure within the allocated budget provision under the head Publicity and Advertisement. The expenditure incurred... is subject to audit... and the department is accountable to answer any objection raised by the audit. So the statement that there is no audit for expenditure incurred by the Government is also not true.

"... Renowned artistes based on their track record were chosen by `Tamil Maiyam' without any external interference. Their performance was appreciated by every one... Hence the selection of artistes cannot be termed arbitrary," it said.