As Maharashtra battles drought, ministers and legislators travel to Australia, New Zealand & Singapore for 'study tour'

Though there will be free dinners and lunches for leaders from Maharashtra, the trip will cost more than Rs 6 lakh per person

Maharashtra is reeling under severe drought conditions, but its ministers and legislators seem to be living in a different world altogether. A 16-member team has left for a 14-day study tour of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The team which has gone for the study tour includes State Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat and his wife.

Though there will be free dinners and lunches, every member’s trip is costing more than a cost of Rs 6 lakh which they will incur on airfare and accommodation. Along with two ministers, legislators and presiding officers of the Maharashtra legislature are also among those attending the tour.

During the visit, the delegation will visit 8 to 10 regional Parliaments, like the one in New South Wales in Sydney; South Australia in Adelaide, the Australian Parliament in Melbourne. They will also be taught about the laws in those countries about farm loans.

Defending the government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shaina NC said that there is no need to relate agrarian crisis to this study tour. “This is an all paid trip. No cost of any of the members is to be incurred by the exchequer. These trips are good for better relations between the countries,” she said.

Former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan questioned the timing of the visit claiming that such a trip should not have happened when the state is reeling under a crisis. “There is nothing wrong with these tours. A cost of Rs 6 lakh is also not something that the Maharashtra government cannot afford. But it is the timing of the event which is wrong,” he said.