BANGALORE: About Rs 1.09 crore of the taxpayer's money has gone down the drain, thanks to dharnas and boycotts in both Houses of the Karnataka legislature over 61 days from June 2004 to September 2006.
It could well have funded the laying of a kilometre of road. This after the 225 MLAs and 75 MLCs got a Rs 100-hike in their sitting allowance only in August 2005 to make it Rs 600 per day.
In the last two years, the Karnataka legislative assembly has almost equalled the number of days when it was engaged in business to that of adjournment on account of dharnas or protests.
Information procured by The Times of India under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on the number of sittings from May 28, 2004 (Dharam Singh's government) to September 29, 2006 (Belgaum session), shows that of the total 125 days, the assembly was adjourned 52 times. The Upper House had a better record of nine adjournments in 121 days of sittings.
These cold statistics also means 312 hours and 54 hours lost in the assembly and council respectively, considering that on an average the House would have transacted business for six hours each day.
Information about the cost to the exchequer due to these disruptions was not available immediately, but conservative estimates have been worked out. Sources say the expenditure incurred per day on the assembly is Rs 6.13 lakh. This includes Rs 2.88 lakh (pay and allowances of members and staff), Rs 2.21 lakh (TA and DA) and Rs 1.04 lakh (other expenses).
The expenditure for the council works up to Rs 2.31 lakh, with Rs 1.68 lakh going towards pay and allowances, Rs 53,000 for TA & DA and Rs 10,000 for other expenses.
The all-India whips' conference held in Hyderabad in 2005 had suggested that MPs and legislators not be entitled to daily allowance, if the Houses are adjourned without transacting business. The conference, while adopting the "no work no pay" resolution, had left it to the Centre and states to implement this.
In 2004, exasperated by the frequent disruptions in the Parliament, Rajya Sabha MP and noted jurist Fali S Nariman had tabled a non-official Bill -- Disruption of Proceedings of Parliament (Disentitlement of Allowances). It sought deduction of daily allowances of MPs when the proceedings were stalled. The Bill could not be taken up.
This is a welcome step. People should find more invovative way of voicing their concern. Stopping work seldom works. An inovative way of communicating will go long way in ensuring that the voices are heard at right corners.