Shimla: On the eve of the week long monsoon session that starts on Tuesday (17.8.2010), it would be worthwhile to asses the working of our legislators in the previous session, which happened to be the 2010-11 budget session held in March-April, 2010.
Information obtained under Right To Information (RTI) only partially revealed that the Himachal Vidhan Sabha spent more than Rs 2 lakh per hour just for meeting the travelling and dearness allowance (TA/DA) expenses of 44 members during the last session that clocked 80 hours and 31 minutes of work time in 26 sittings, which included passing of the budget.
In response to a My Himachal query made under RTI about overall expenditure involved in conducting the last session, the government public information officer (PIO) with General Administration Department (GAD) responded that information related to government expenditure, which included expenditures made by the ministries in responding to the various questions raised, was not available.
However, the Vidhan Sabha disclosed that for the 80 hours and 31 minutes of working time in the 26 sessions held, it had received TA/DA bills of Rs 16,12,145 from 44 legislators.
In all there are 68 members of the house, which included 10 ministers, 3 parliamentary secretaries, speaker, deputy speaker and the chief minister.
Spread over 5 weeks the 2010-11 budget session started on 2nd March and ended on 13th April, and worked for 26 days, averaging 3 hours and 5 minutes of working time per day.
The longest sitting was on March 18, when the house discussed the budget for 7 hours and 23 minute and the shortest one was of 50 minutes on 6th April on a day when the opposition did not attend the question hour.
Even on 12th April, the house finished the dayâ€™s work in 55 minutes and on 9 other days, the business ended in less than 2 hours.
For presenting, discussing to passing of the budget the house spent 19 hours and 26 minutes, spread over 6 working days starting from 9th March to 19th March.
Whereas leader of the opposition Vidya Stokes does not claim any TA/DA bills, the information states, 6 others, which include Rajeev Saizal, Rakesh Pathania, Sujan Singh Pathania, Govind Thakur, Roop Singh Thakur and Anil Sharma had not submitted their bills till the information was released.
The highest bill claimed was Rs 71,660 by Bal Krishan Chauhan, a BJP legislator from Chamba followed by Rs 68,180 claimed Ram Lal Markanda, a BJP legislator from Lahaul Spiti and the minimum bill claimed was Rs 10,020/- by Hari Naryan Singh, a BJP MLA from Nalagarh, followed by Gobind Ram Sharma who submitted a Rs 10,370- bill.
Of the 51 legislators, only 48 of them raised 974 questions during the long session. Maximum questions were raised by Rajesh Dharmani (90), followed by Mukesh Agnihotri (88) and congress president Kaul Singh Thakur (83).
Three members, which include Sujjan Singh Pathania from congress, Gobind Thakur of BJP and ruling party president Khimmi Ram did not raise any question and another three, which include, Renu Chadda of BJP, Kush Parmar of congress and leader of the opposition Vidya Stokes raised a solitary question during the entire session.
As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post.
Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.