Winter session at Belagavi cost Rs 12 cr: Speaker

The marshalls of the House pose for a group photo with Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in front of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi on Friday, the last day of the winter session of the legislature. DH Photo/M S Manjunath

Legislative Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Friday said that around Rs 12 crore was spent to conduct this year’s winter session in Belagavi, which, he said was Rs 8 to Rs 10 crore lesser than the previous year.

Addressing reporters after adjourning the 10-day session sine die, Kumar said that after he took over as Speaker, he had introduced certain austerity measures to prune “unnecessary” spending/expenditure for conducting the session.

He also said that he had ordered an inquiry into the extravagant spending during the last year’s session, and that he was expecting a report on the same shortly. The report, he said, would throw light on the areas of excesses.

“Both the Deputy Speaker and I were not happy about the amount of money spent last year to conduct the legislature session in Belagavi. Prima facie, I felt that such extensive spending was not necessary.”

“This time, we ensured that we tightened the purse strings, without compromising on the facilities and arrangements. I also appealed to the government to appoint a special officer to monitor the spending and also make arrangements for this session. The government appointed Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, who is an honest officer - to monitor and be vigilant,” he added. When asked if there had been misuse/misappropriation of funds, Kumar said, “I have ordered a probe to ascertain the same.”

Expressing regret over the conclusion of the session amidst pandemonium, the Speaker said that he had tried his best to mediate between the Ruling and the Opposition parties.

“I tried my level best. I summoned leaders from both sides and advised them. I am not even sure what the dispute was about. They are elected representatives - they know it all. All political parties have a big responsibility to ensure that the proceedings are conducted effectively. The Speaker alone cannot be held entirely responsible for the conducting the session,” he said.

No discussion

The Speaker also said that he was unhappy that there were no discussions on important issues because of the stalemate in the Assembly.

“I am pained that there couldn’t be any discussions on north Karnataka, sand mining, irrigation and the A T Ramaswamy report. I have personal regret about it,” he added. Kumar however said that the attendance in the Assembly had substantially improved.

“The attendance by far has improved, including that of the ministers,” he added.

When asked if he would initiate any action against Municipal Administration Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi for being absent for a major part of the session, Kumar said that the minister had written to him seeking to be excused on grounds of health issues. “He sent a letter stating that he was unwell. I have to respect it.”

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