From climate change, UT heritage status meetings to capacity building: the reasons that took public servants overseas

From meetings on climate change, emissions and the heritage status of Chandigarh’s landmarks, to a course on organizational management, city bureaucrats have traveled overseas for a myriad of reasons.

In 2019, former Chandigarh Councilor Manoj Parida, who is currently based in Delhi, and Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Debendra Dalai visited New Zealand and Australia for a capacity building program , which cost Rs 13,44,583 to the UT Treasury.

These details emerged from requests filed in various departments under the Right to Information Act, seeking details of overseas trips undertaken by UT officers, their purpose and the expenses incurred for them. .

Parida and CCF Debendra Dalai went to participate in a 15-day international capacity building program on “Innovations in Organizational Management” in June 2019, five days of which were spent at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) , Delhi, and four days each at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand; and Crawford School of Public Policy, Australia.

Details shared by the Chandigarh Renewable Energy and Science and Technology Promotion Society (CREST) ​​show that an expenditure of Rs 13,44,583 was incurred during the visit.

Parida, when contacted, said, “I haven’t done any overseas tours.”

“I was selected for a public administration course at IIPA Delhi, along with 20 other officers. This course included overseas visits to universities in Australia and New Zealand. The course fees were paid by administration and all travel and accommodation was arranged by the IIPA,” he told The Indian Express. He said that Dalai, an Indian Forest Service officer, had also been selected for the “There were about twenty officers from all over the country.”

Asked about the course fees paid by the administration, Parida replied: “I don’t remember, it was a 15-day course.

When told that the expenses for the trips amounted to Rs 13,44,583, he remained silent.

THE COP & THE CITY

Parida also traveled to Spain to attend the Conference of Parties (COP) during his visit to Chandigarh in 2019. Details from the Chandigarh Renewable Energy and Science and Technology Promotion Society show that a sum of Rs 3,26,583 was engaged on this trip.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the decision-making body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Dalai was also granted permission in 2018 to “participate in events at the India Pavilion, Conference of the Parties (COP) in Katowice, Poland, from December 5 to 7, 2018”.

The trip cost Rs 2,84,258 to the Treasury, according to details available with CREST. In its RTI response, CREST said the cost included accommodation fee of Rs 1,21,200, airfare of Rs 1,31,091 and allowance of Rs 26,438. Santosh Kumar, the former chief forest curator, has traveled to Paris, Morocco, Germany, New Jersey, Brussels and Copenhagen, among other places, during his stay in the city.

Ministry of Environment RTI records show that Rs 4,58,428 was spent on his trip to Paris (year 2015), Rs 2,83,343 for Morocco, where he had traveled to attend the Conference of Parties ( in 2016). Attending another COP in Germany cost Rs 4,22,520 (in 2017).

In 2015, Santosh Kumar was also part of the delegation of officers who traveled to Denmark and Brussels to attend a meeting from October 25 to 31, 2015.

Details of expenses for his visits to Germany and New Jersey citing a ‘study tour’ given by CREST show that Rs 2,30,846 was incurred but the year was not mentioned.

HERITAGE IN PARIS

UT administration officials have also spent considerable time in Paris lobbying for the inclusion of the Chandigarh monuments in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2013, then-Councillor KK Sharma traveled to Paris to attend one such meeting on December 2 to discuss transnational nominations to the UNESCO Heritage List.

The order approved by the additional personnel secretary and KK Sharma himself stated that a sanction for the payment of Rs 3,24,875 as an advance was given to cover the expenses of the visit. It included Rs 76,500 (about 300 euros per day for three days), taxi fares of Rs 65,875 and a daily allowance of Rs 22,500.

In 2014, then Interior Minister Anil Kumar was allowed to travel to Paris from May 8 to 12, for meetings at World Heritage sites. A revised sanction for the payment of Rs 3,27,848 was granted, which included accommodation costs at L’hotel Du Collectionneur (Rs 75,474), taxi fares (Rs 70,678), air tickets (Rs 1 ,46,481 plus Rs 14,068) to be paid to Grand Firm of Travel Planners in Sector 17, Chandigarh.

Chief architect Kapil Setia also visited Paris three times in 12 months – June 12-19, 2015; November 28 to December 3, 2015; and from June 6 to June 10, 2016 — for heritage meetings. Besides the French capital, he also flew to Switzerland and Istanbul for meetings with a similar program.

Teresa H. Sadler