Since assuming office as the country’s first woman President in July 2007, Patil has undertaken 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries across four continents. She has four more months to go for her five-year tenure and a trip to South Africa is said to be on the anvil.
A series of RTI applications has revealed that Air India incurred over Rs 169 crore on use of chartered aircraft, always a Boeing 747-400, on the foreign visits by Patil, mostly accompanied by her family members. A smaller jet was used for a visit to Bhutan.
A further sum of nearly Rs 36 crore has been incurred by the Ministry of External Affairs on accommodation, local travel, daily Allowance and “miscellaneous” expenses, according to the information provided by the ministry.
The RTI applications were filed over a period of three years during which the authorities concerned showed great reluctance to reveal information.
The Ministry of Defence, which pays Air India for use of chartered aircraft by the President, fended off RTI queries and provided little information.
Air India has billed the Defence Ministry for over Rs 169 crore on account of aircraft used by Patil. Of this, the Ministry has paid nearly Rs 153 crore, leaving unpaid bills of over Rs 16 crore.