Karnataka Governor in controversy over splurging of money on Raj Bhavan

Bengaluru: Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, a former Gujarat Finance Minister, was embroiled in a controversy over expenditure of Rs four crore on renovation of Raj Bhavan and another Rs 1.30 crore on air travel including by special flights during nine months.

The Congress government in Karnataka gave an approval on January 5 this year for taking up seven civil works at a cost of Rs three crore, besides electrical works worth Rs one crore, according to information furnished by the State Public Works Department in reply to an RTI query.

The approval came in response to a letter to government by Governor's secretary on June 17, 2014, requesting taking up of renovation of the buildings on Raj Bhavan premises.

In response to another RTI query, it was stated by the concerned department that the government has spent Rs 1.3 crore on the Governor's air travel expenses since his assumption of office on September 1, 2014 till May 13, 2015.

Vala, a BJP leader who hails from Gujarat where he was the Assembly Speaker before occupying the gubernatorial post in Karnataka, travelled in special flights and chartered copters to places like Vadodra, Surat and Ahmedabad, it said. There was no immediate response from Raj Bhavan on the row over the expenditure.

The PWD also said government had spent Rs 40 lakh and Rs 30 lakh on repairing Governor and ADC offices and special officers/personal secretary's office-main lounge, respectively.

A sum of Rs 25 lakh was spent on telephone exchange repair work, and to take up civil works of computer section, pharmacy and administrative block, PWD said in the reply. Another Rs 50 lakh was spent on widening of the pedestrian path behind the main building among other works, it said.

Spread across a little over 17 acres, Raj Bhavan houses the governor`s residence, an administration block, a glasshouse and 61 staff quarters, PWD said. There are 300 staff members at Raj Bhavan, it said. Congress said time has come to decide to decide on expenditure limits for Governors.

"The limit must be prescribed...No absolute protection should be available to them," Congress leader P L Punia said. Karnataka Law Minister T B Jayachandra refused to comment on the controversy. Asked about the controversy, he said, "Governor is like father of the state and a constitutional authority. Hence, I do not want to make any comments. Let people know who is spending how much."

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has also refused to comment, saying he has no information on it.

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