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Government rejects RTI query on Obama's visit expenses
Monday May 4, 2015 11:12 PM, IANS

Mumbai: The ministry of external affairs has rejected a Right To Information (RTI) query seeking details of the expenses incurred during US President Barack Obama's three-day recent visit to India, an activist said here on Monday.

The information was denied as "it could affect India's international relations", RTI activist Anil Galgali said.

Galgali, Mumbai's leading RTI activist, had sought the information from the MEA on the expenses for hosting President Obama and his large contingent last January, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

MEA's deputy chief protocol officer Rohit Rathish declined to provide the information, terming it as "confidential and sensitive" with a bearing on India's future bilateral relations with other foreign countries.

Rathish explained that every year, the Indian government hosts dignitaries and delegations from various foreign countries, but each visit is treated as unique.

The type of delegations, reason for the visits, categorisation, organisation, how the visit is hosted, how many cities they visit and other details are different from each other, the reply explained.

Under such conditions, the expenses incurred by the government on each such visit varies and giving out such sensitive information could adversely affect India's bilateral relations with other countries.

Reacting to the MEA's denial, Galgali questioned the government's motive behind not revealing the expenses on such VVIP visits.

"The Modi government revels in claiming transparency in governance... But it is trying to conceal the huge expenses, raising the bogey of sensitivity and confidentiality. It is a matter of debate how revealing such information can hamper India's foreign relations," Galgali told IANS.

He stressed on the need for the government to inform the people of the country on all such expenses incurred from public money, collected by way of taxes from the hard earned income of the masses.

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