The Hush Post: Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and ex-deputy CM Sukhbir Badal used to spend Rs one crore per month on their travelling. And this money came out of the state exchequer.
This information was shared by local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at a press conference. The information was procured from the state civil aviation department by Congress MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian’s son Daljit Singh.
As per the information, the Badals would fly almost once a day in private as well as state-owned choppers. The chartered flights alone cost the cash-starved state a whopping Rs 121 crore in 10 years, an average Rs 1 crore per month.
Private helicopters are hired at Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 2.6 lakh an hour. The Badal regime also bought a new state chopper, a Bell 429 model, for Rs 38 crore, without competitive bidding, which was later also red-flagged by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report. The state chopper rides added another Rs 8 crore as fuel expenses. Overall, the Badal family’s outings, including visits to their farmhouses in Balasar in Haryana, Badal village in Bathinda and New Delhi, cost the state Rs 167 crore, if the cost of the new choppers is added.
The RTI reply also shows that Badal claimed Rs 500 as travelling allowance, each time he travelled by air.
Sharing information procured from the general administration department, Sidhu said the former CM was also sanctioned Rs 7.9 lakh as “time-barred” TA, an amount he had claimed as reimbursement for his flight tickets to America where his wife was undergoing treatment in 2010. “The TA was granted without air tickets or boarding passes,” the minister said.
They not only clocked air miles but their fleet of 51 SUVs (32 of Badal and 19 of Sukhbir) also guzzled fuel worth Rs 14 crore in first one-and-a-half years of their second stint between March 2012 and December 2013.
“It was criminal loot of state coffers. I will request finance minister Manpreet Badal to order an inquiry into the buying of a state chopper without bids. Contrast this with our government which has spent just Rs 22 lakh on state chopper (in the last nine months) and hired chartered flights only for the governor (twice) and the chief secretary and the police chief that too in view of law and order after sentencing of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief,” he said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday said local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu wasn’t right in criticising the Badals.
Maheshinder Singh Grewal said Sidhu had come up with ridiculous figures of low expenditure on air travel during the last nine months of Congress rule but the fact is pilots and engineers’ salaries alone came to Rs 3 crore every year whether the helicopter flew or not.