Setu reason for Baalu’s mystery trip to Panama?

via published on February 13, 2008

NEW DELHI: Just what took shipping, road transport and highways minister T R Baalu to Panama and Cairo in early November 2004?

Not only did he bill the cabinet secretariat for the trip – to the tune of Rs 5,59,183 – instead of his own department; strangely, no officials accompanied the DMK leader on his visit to the two destinations.

Responding to an RTI application from Dev Asish Bhattacharya, Baalu’s ministry failed to shed light on what took the minister to Panama and Cairo by a circuitous route.

“Not known,” the ministry tersely responded to Bhattacharya, acknowledging in the process that no visit report, as is the practice, was filed.

This despite the fact that the visit had – as indicated by the bills were submitted to the cabinet secretariat – an official content.

The connection between Panama, Cairo and Baalu, though speculative, could well be canals. Egypt controls the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal runs through Panama. And, it is no secret that UPA – especially the DMK, to which Baalu belongs – has had a bee in the bonnet about the Sethusamudram canal

Comment by Shri Kalyanaraman

Minister’s mystery trips to US, Egypt and Panama costing Rs. 10,76,294

Cost to centre:

Rs. 5,59,183 for the Egypt-Panama trip.

Rs. 5,17,111 for the US trip.

Total Rs. 10,76,294

No visit reports filed. Not even reasons for the trips. US trip file not traceable.

Two questions:

Did the Minister see the facilities in place in Suez canal for salvage operations for grounded ships? Bollards are placed every 200 feet on either bank of the canal for tying wire ropes to rescue and tug a grounded ship. Did he wonder how such an operation would occur in a mid-ocean channel in Setu?

Who is interested in development of coastal people of Setusamudram?


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