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Why do Indian envoys need homes with sauna, pools?
December 10, 2004 16:17 IST
Last Updated: December 10, 2004 16:40 IST
A parliamentary committee has pulled up the Ministry of External Affairs for acquiring residential properties abroad with 'avoidable' expensive facilities like swimming pools and tennis courts for Indian envoys.
The ministry informed the Public Accounts Committee that there are 53 residential properties abroad with such facilities. They are occupied by heads of missions or posts as well as minister-level officers. An expenditure of Rs 90 lakh has been incurred in the last three years on their repair and maintenance, the ministry said.
A statement furnished by the ministry revealed that the missions and posts at Muscat, Mahe, Phnom Penh, Lusaka, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Houston, Abu Dhabi, Kingston and Singapore are, compared to others, incurring quite a large expenditure on repair and maintenance.
In its report presented in Parliament, the PAC has asked the government to take appropriate steps to ensure that the expenditure on such facilities is within a reasonable limit.
The report, presented by PAC Chairman V K Malhotra, referred to the audit scrutiny of the purchase of residence for the consulate general of India at Frankfurt.
While according sanction to the purchase of the property worth Rs 142.87 lakh with appurtenances like heated indoor swimming pool and sauna bath, the MEA had not kept in view the need for economy in government expenditure, the report said.
Responding to the committee's recommendation to review the necessity for maintaining the Frankfurt property at such a prohibitive cost, the ministry said as per the prevalent market scenario, selling of the property is not an economically viable proposition.
The committee has also directed the MEA to lay down guidelines and parameters governing the procurement of such properties.
It disagreed with the MEA's contention that universal norms are not desirable for the residences of diplomatic officials posted abroad.
Such norms are desirable and feasible, the committee maintained. It asked the MEA to provide for a certain degree of flexibility to allow local variations while devising the norms.
The committee said it is constrained to point out that even two years after the presentation of the original report, the government has not worked out the norms.
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