Poll panel incurs Rs 5.83 cr cost on travel

Former chief election commissioner Qureshi tops list with 23 foreign trips

Poll panel incurs Rs 5.83 cr cost on travel

The Election Commission has incurred Rs 5.83 crore expenditure on domestic and foreign travel of Election Commissioners and senior officials, with former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi topping the list with 23 official trips abroad.

Officials defended the forei­gn trips of Election Commissioners as the emergence of the Indian election watchdog in the international arena as most of the trips were for monitoring election process in other countries.

According to a reply to an RTI query filed by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the Commission said the domestic travel expenses between 2008-09 and 2012-13 were Rs 3.56 crore, while the foreign travel expenses were Rs 2.27 crore.

While the domestic expenses were almost in the same range over the past five fiscals, the expenses on foreign tours increased from Rs 17.85 lakh in 2009-10 to Rs 63.70 lakh in the next fiscal. It again rose to Rs 74.86 lakh in 2011-12 but fell to Rs 62.98 lakh in the last fiscal. Qureshi went on 23 trips abroad between September 2008 and March 2012, including 17 after he became chief election commissioner in 2010.

The current CEC went on five foreign tours in the past one year, in addition to another five he undertook between 2009 and 2012 when he was an Election Commissioner.

He visited Bhutan as an observer during last year’s election in the Himalayan country and New York this July to have “detailed meetings and discussions” with the Federal Electoral Commission of USA as well as an academic interaction with faculty and research scholars on the invitation of University of Illinois.

Former CEC Naveen Chawla undertook ten foreign tours during his one-year term while another ex-CEC, N Gopalswami, went on four trips.

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