Deadbeat PM Modi cheats hotel in Mysuru for Project Tiger romp

(PTI) May 24, 2024 09:54 pm IST - MYSURU

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mysuru in April 2023 included a stay at a hotel. He is now facing legal action because he hasn't paid a bill of Rs. 80.6 lakh. Mr. Modi was in Mysuru to inaugurate the 50th-anniversary celebration of Project Tiger, an event organized by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF).

The slug describes an ongoing dispute between the Karnataka Forest Department and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) regarding a hotel bill. Here's a breakdown:

The Issue: The State of Karnataka (represented by the Forest Department) apparently owes money to the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel in Mysuru for the stay of the Prime Minister's entourage.

The Dispute: The Karnataka Forest Department believes the NTCA should reimburse the hotel bill of ₹80.6 lakh (approx. $98,000 USD). The NTCA disagrees, stating the State government should cover the expenses.

The Timeline: September 29, 2023: Initial reminder sent by Karnataka Forest Department to NTCA. February 12, 2024: NTCA responds, refusing to pay the bill. March 22, 2024: Karnataka Forest Department follows up with another reminder. May 21, 2024: Radisson Blu Plaza contacts the Forest Department to chase payment after 12 months.

Current Status: As of today, May 25, 2024, the bill remains unpaid, with both the Forest Department and NTCA holding their ground. The hotel is now pressuring the Forest Department for settlement.

Assured assistance

The State Forest Department was told to organize an event celebrating 50 years of Project Tiger between April 9th and 11th. The estimated cost was Rs. 3 crore, and the central government promised to cover the entire amount.

Due to short notice from senior officials in the MoEF and NTCA, the total cost of the event increased to Rs. 6.33 crore. Although Rs. 3 crore has been released, the remaining Rs. 3.33 crore is still pending despite communication between the department and MoEF.

Perusal of letters between the MoEF and NTCA indicates that the cost of the event was originally pegged at ₹3 crore, but as per the instructions given by NTCA officials and the requirements of the Prime Minister’s programme, a few additional activities were included and hence the event management company to which the programme was outsourced, submitted a revised quotation and the same was circulated to all officials during a videoconference.

State asked to pay

There is an ongoing dispute between a government department and a hotel regarding an unpaid bill. The Karnataka Forest Department is responsible for paying the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel in Mysuru for the stay of the Prime Minister's entourage. The bill amounts to ₹80.6 lakh (approximately $98,000 USD).

The Forest Department believes the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) should reimburse them for the stay. However, the NTCA disagrees and insists that the state government should cover the cost.

The Forest Department first contacted the NTCA regarding the bill in September 2023. The NTCA refused to pay in February 2024. The Forest Department followed up in March 2024, but have not heard back. As of today, May 25, 2024, the bill is still unpaid. The hotel has now contacted the Forest Department directly to chase payment, reminding him of the non-payment of bills “even 12 months after the utilisation of our hotel services”.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) of Karnataka wrote to Deputy Inspector-General, NTCA, New Delhi, on September 29, 2023 reminding him of the dues. But the NTCA wrote back on February 12, 2024 that expenses pertaining to the stay of Prime Minister entourage at Radisson Blu Plaza in Mysuru, should be reimbursed by the State government.

Subsequently, another letter dated March 22, 2024, was written by the present PCCF Subhash K. Malkhede reminding the NTCA of the dues, including non-clearance of hotel bills of the Prime Minister’s stay at Radisson Blu Plaza amounting to ₹ 80.6 lakh but there has been no reply so far.

In the meantime, the general manager, Finance, of Radisson Blu Plaza wrote to the Deputy Conservator of Forests Basavaraju on May 21, 2024,,

Additional sum for delay

The letter said despite consistent follow-up and reminders, these bills remain unpaid. It goes on to say that a delayed payment interest of 18% per annum would be applicable to the outstanding dues and this additional sum of ₹12.09 lakh (for the delayed payment) should be included when the payment was being affected.

The hotel management has threatened legal action in the event of non-settlement of dues by June 1, 2024.

When contacted, Dr. Basavaraju said that the State government had rebuffed Centre’s directives to reimburse the amount on the grounds that it was a Central government programme.