Austerity only on paper; officials go on foreign tour

Three executives prefer to fly business class; huge daily allowances drawn for the trip

The official explanation stated is to test the 66 KVA cable, which the power sector had recently procured for Bangalore City.

Timing of the junket too is odd, since the State is reeling under severe power scarcity. Most significant is the fact that a meeting of Company of Public Undertaking to examine audit paragraphs of Comptroller Auditor General’s report is being held on November 25, 2009.

“The presence of MD KPTCL and MD Bescom and other top brass is necessary during the meeting, but none of them are available at present,” according to a source. Besides, the power tariff order is also to be released on Wednesday, in the absence of the top officials. 

Recent floods
Taking cue from the Union Government, the State government had announced cut on foreign tours for ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats, particularly in the wake of the recent floods.

But the top bureaucrats, Latha Krishna Rao, Managing Director, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL); Tushar Girinath, Managing Director, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom); and Pratap Kumar, Director Technical, KPTCL apparently bypassed the Chief Minister’s order by undertaking the eight-day trip to West Asia and Africa. The tour was on an invitation by Bosch Limited and Elsewedy (Egytech) Cables Cairo, Egypt.

The trio are on the trip along with Govindappa, Superintendent Engineer, Chandrashekar, Executive Engineer and Girish,  Assistant Executive Engineer, all officially sent by KPTCL to test the wire at the premises of the Company in Cairo.

Why so many?
But while the company has borne the officials’ cost, the engineers are being sent using KPTCL’s funds.
“Usually, one or two persons are sent on such mission, but here we have a team of six persons, that too for eight long days. We wonder why the company is sponsoring this trip for their business contract worth Rs 15 lakhs ,” wondered a source in the power sector.

All the six persons on tour have reportedly drawn a daily allowance of 56.25 US dollars each (Rs 3,000 per day) from KPTCL. Those who have been invited by the private companies have been housed at Cairo’s expensive Hilton hotel, while the others sent by KPTCL are paid a sum of 175 dollars.

Business class
Interestingly, all the three top officials have been flown in business class, which is in violation of the order, because no bureaucrats except for the rank of Principal Secretary can fly in business class.

The entire trip has been in contravention of the Government order, as the State had cleared only three names for the trip on November 20, 2009. Besides, the trip initially fixed for three days was extended to eight days. “Cable testing requires just a day’s time and there is no reason why Dubai is included in the official trip,” questioned a source in the sector.

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