By Ratikant Mohanty
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 12: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s air travel expenses have dealt a bigger dent to the state exchequer as compared to previous years.
In a written reply to a query by BJP’s Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray, state parliamentary affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukha on Tuesday said, the state government has spent over Rs 26.55 crore towards airfares of Mr Patnaik and his cabinet colleagues in the last three years.
During 2015-17, Rs 8.43 crore was spent in 2015, Rs 11.14 crore in 2016 and Rs 6.97 crore in 2017 towards air travel expenses within and outside state, Arukha said.
Worth mentioning, an application under RTI Act revealed that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his ministerial colleagues’ chopper rides cost the state exchequer nearly Rs 23 crore between 2011 and 2015.
During the last three years, Mr Patnaik had used a helicopter on 104 occasions for travel inside the state as compared to 45 times by his colleagues, Mr Arukha further said.
Similarly, Mr Patnaik undertook air rides outside the state 11 times and only one minister travelled outside the state during this period, he concluded.