The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RJD posers on foreign flights

Ranchi, Nov. 18: The RJD today launched a mission apparently to put a check on the frequent “official” foreign trips undertaken by the ministers of the state on the pretext of inviting foreign investors.

Demanding a high-level probe into the expenses incurred on the foreign tours undertaken during the NDA regime, the party today threatened to take to the streets if the Madhu Koda government refused to take action against the “culprits”.

The erstwhile Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda-led NDA governments allegedly drained over Rs 3 crore on foreign tours, holding road shows and signing MoUs (see chart) , but not a single new industry has been set up in the state yet, claimed RJD state general secretary Manohar Yadav.

Procuring detailed information from the cabinet coordination and industries departments under the Right to Information Act two days ago, Yadav made these remarks. He had sought these data two months ago.

“The MoUs are a eyewash. The chief ministers have been squandering public money. We will not allow the ministers of the present government as well to do so. We will soon hold a meeting with our party’s senior leaders and work out a concrete action plan. Our delegation will also meet Koda on the issue,” said Yadav.

According to the information provided by the cabinet coordination department, over Rs 35 lakh was spent on Marandi’s tour to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore in 2002. Extensive infrastructure development plans were worked out after the tour, but nothing materialised. The Greater Ranchi plan is also in a limbo.

Arjun Munda, too, went on two official foreign tours as chief minister. His maiden foreign trip was in 2005. He went to the UK, France and Switzerland. Besides steel tycoon L.N. Mittal, he held parleys with several other investors.

Munda undertook another tour to the US early this year. He held meetings with investors in different parts of the US and also met the World Bank officials to seek more funds for the development of the state. While returning, he stopped in London and met Mittal.

Even as Rs 1,33,84,121 was allegedly drained on this tour, Munda is undeterred by the criticism. Asserting that he was ready to face any kind of probe, Munda claimed he had undertaken these tours for the welfare of the state and had succeeded in his mission to a “considerable extent”.

Apart from the former chief ministers, Raghubar Das, Sudesh Mahto and several senior bureaucrats went abroad at government expenses during the NDA regime.

The ministers of the present UPA government also seem to have keen interest on going abroad. Recently, urban development minister Harinarayan Rai went to London and a few other places. Rural development minister Anosh Ekka is all set to leave for Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on December 2.

The public funds were not drained in foreign tours alone, though. The industries department spent Rs 80,49,360 in organising road shows, investors’ meet and putting up stalls at trade fairs and exhibitions. All these efforts have resulted in 55 MoUs involving investments to the tune of Rs 2,25,910.30 crore.

But the residents of the state are yet to reap their benefits!

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