A Vadodara-based RTI activist on has charged that Gujarat’s ruling BJP government is refusing to provided her with information about travelling expenses incurred by Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues while attending a series of conferences in 2007.
Trupti Shah has sent a letter to Modi, saying information about his and his Ministers’ travel-related expenses during ‘women empowerment sammelans’ had not been provided till date.
The letter comes in the wake of Mr Modi seeking answers from the Centre regarding Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s trips abroad which, he alleged, have cost the exchequer Rs 1880 crore.
Shah said she had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application on 18 July 2007, seeking details about the expenses incurred by the state government for organising the sammelans in 27 places across the state in 2007.
Ms Shah alleged she was denied the information even after repeated reminders. She said the state’s General Administrative Department (GAD), in a letter dated 1 November 2007, provided the list of 27 places visited by Mr Modi from March 10, 2007 to September 20, 2007.
But regarding the travelling expenses, the letter stated “the office of the Chief Minister did not mention the travelling expenses and so the CM’s travelling expenses may be considered nil.”
This, the activist alleged, is “ridiculous” and “unbelievable” because Mr Modi had travelled to most of the 27 places by helicopter.
Ms Shah then shot off a letter on 20 November, 2007 seeking details about the names of agencies that bore the expenditure. When her letter didn’t elicit a response from the GAD, she sent a reminder on 18 January, 2008 and again on 17 April, 2008 but she did not get any reply, she alleged.
After failing to get the required information, Ms Shah filed a complaint under the RTI Act before the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Gujarat.
In the last hearing on 26 September, 2012, the CIC directed the GAD to hand over the relevant information to Shah before the next hearing in October. The officer concerned said the information was not available though they have requested the CMO and other ministers to provide it, Shah said.