The Government of India, having re-initiated a series of austerity measures to restrict fiscal deficit to the budgeted 4.8 per cent of GDP this year, might want to send in a polite directive to ministers in Maharashtra's state government who have run up airfare bills worth Rs 6.28 crore in the past three years.
Incidentally, the Maharashtra government has itself issued advisories to its employees to curb its expenses.
Leading the list of ministers with large air travel itineraries is Minister for Forests and Rehabilitation Dr Patangrao Kadam of the Congress, whose air tickets have added up to Rs 43 lakh in three years.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's flight expenses since he took charge are Rs 6.32 lakh, while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar notched up Rs 10.28 lakh and Home Minster R R Patil spent Rs 14.35 lakh in airfare bills in three years.
PWD Minister Chaggan Bhujbal spent Rs 18 lakh, Suburban Mumbai's guardian minister and minister for minority affairs Naseem Khan spent Rs 18.76 lakh and Education Minister Rajendra Darda spent Rs 19.29 lakh.
Former chief minister Ashok Chavan spent Rs 1.46 lakhs on air travel during the period from November 2009 to November 2010.
The information was provided by the Pay & Accounts Department of the Government of Maharashtra to Right to Information activist Anil Galgali.
The information on approved expenses pertains to the period from November 2009 to January 2013 and includes travel expenses incurred by the CM and his council of Ministers, a total sum of Rs 6,28,83,598.
Notably, these expenses are over and above the costs incurred by the government's own plane and helicopters.
There is no ceiling on the expenses incurred by ministers on this account.
"Even then, at a time like this when the state is burdened by debt and the drought relief work, it should be the moral duty of ministers to observe some restraint," said Galgali.
Writing to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Galgali has sought a directive to ministers to reduce these expenses by opting to travel by train instead. "It can be seen that they have used flights to destinations connected by trains," he said.
Earlier this month, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and his office travelled to work by the Delhi Metro in a gesture aimed at popularising public transport with a view to cut down on transportation bills and fuel costs, against a backdrop of burgeoning current account deficit (CAD) in 2012-13 on account of mounting imports including of crude oil. Moily's ministry has launched measures such as Bus Day and a nationwide six-week campaign to propagate conservation of oil and gas to cut the oil import bill.
Meanwhile, here is the list of ministers' flight expenses as provided by the Government of Maharashtra:
Dr Patangrao Kadam: Rs 42,40,616
Anil Deshmukh: Rs 39.54 lakh
Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil: Rs 36 lakh
Fauziya Khan: Rs 32.48 lakh
Narayan Rane: Rs 31.29 lakh
Dr Nitin Raut: Rs 28.93 lakh
Sunil Tatkare: Rs 26.88 lakh
Balasaheb Thorat: Rs 24.95 lakh
Jayant Patil: Rs 21.70 lakh
Jaydutt Kshirsagar: Rs 20.83 lakh
Shivajirao Moghe: Rs 19.73 lakh
Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar: Rs 4. 66 lakh
Prof Laxman Dhoble: Rs 9.43 lakhs
Subhash Zanak: Rs 7.66 lakh
Hasan Musrif: Rs 9.75 lakh
Ganesh Naik: Rs 39,000
DP Sawant: Rs 13.60 lakh
Padmakar Valvi: Rs 15.83 lakh
Ranjeet Kamble: Rs 14.79 lakh
Varsha Gaikwad: Rs 12.59 lakh
Ramesh Bagve: Rs 3.12 lakh
Sachin Ahir: Rs 1.88 lakh
Abdul Sattar: Rs 6.95 lakh
Prakash Solankhe: Rs 9.57 lakh
Vijay Vaddetivar: Rs 10.35 lakh
Bhaskar Jadhav: Rs 7.57 lakh
Rajesh Tope: Rs 9.01 lakh
Suresh Shetty: Rs 13.81 lakh
Harshwardhan Patil: Rs 8.62 lakh
Manohar Naik: Rs 1.35 lakh
Dr Vijay Kumar Gavit: Rs 5.69 lakh
Babanrao Pachpute: Rs 9.20 lakh
Sanjay Devtale: Rs 15.41 lakh
Gulabrao Devkar: Rs 8.24 lakh
Rajendra Gavit: Rs 2.50 lakh
Rajendra Mulak: Rs 13.71 lakh
Updated Date: Oct 18, 2013 14:33 PM