It is everyone’s knowledge that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had visited several foreign countries than the 13 districts of the State in the last four years. Every time, he had a team of officers and Ministers and every time it was special aircraft. He uses the special aircraft even to fly to Hyderabad and had never travelled by the regular flight.
Heading a state that had started with Rs 16,000 or even more revenue deficit and has no revenue sources of its own, Chandrababu Naidu is known for spending the public money. The events for Amaravati, the partnership summits in Visakhapatnam, the peoples’ visit to Polavaram project site, every event involves huge spending by the government.
An attempt to get information on Chandrababu Naidu’s spending on foreign tours was turned down by the officials. Perhaps the officials and Chandrababu Naidu doesn’t want to be answerable to the people who have given them the power and who fill the exchequer through their taxes.
The government had turned down a Right to Information (RTI) plea on the expenditure incurred by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his son and state IT minister Nara Lokesh’s frequent state-sponsored foreign tours since they assumed offices.
The information was denied at two levels under section 8 (1) (E) of the RTI Act 2005. This section stipulates that information sought can only be given out if the relevant authority is satisfied that the disclosure is in the larger public interest.
The query was filed by RTI activist Naidu Nagarjuna Reddy, who sought information from the chief secretary’s office on six points concerning the expenditure on foreign visits, details about who accompanied Naidu and Lokesh, money spent on food, water and other daily expenses, expenditure incurred on Naidu’s official residence, that on official feasts hosted by Naidu in the past four years, details of Telugu Desam’s 2014 election manifesto and its implementation, money spent on security to the Chief Minister and his family and also details of the debts raised by the state government.
In response, the assistant secretary to government (protocol) and public information officer (PIO) at the AP Secretariat’s General Administration Department wrote, “With reference to your application, I am to inform you that your request has been rejected as it falls under section 8 (1) (E) of RTI Act 2005.”
When Mr Reddy approached the next appellate authority, all other points were ignored and the reply merely asked him to check www.goir.ap.gov.infor details of the foreign tours. “I don’t understand why my application was rejected. Since public money is involved, the government is bound to provide details. I will approach the relevant court now,” Mr Reddy said.