New Delhi: About Rs 70 lakh was paid by the Ministry of Home Affairs as remuneration and other expenses in engaging year-long services of three interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the total of Rs 69.80 lakh, Rs 52.36 lakh was paid as salary, about Rs 12.31 lakh was paid to their office assistants, Rs 2.31 lakh as air fare to visit the state and Rs 2.81 lakh as reimbursement expenditure for official transport during their services since their appointment on October 13, 2010.

Replying to an RTI query, the MHA refused to disclose the interlocutors' report citing a clause in the transparency law.

The three-member group of former Information Commissioner M M Sharma, educationist Prof Radha Kumar and eminent journalist Dilip Padgaonkar were appointed by the Government to look into a variety of issues, including the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, confronting Jammu and Kashmir.

The interlocutors have submitted their report in October to Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"The interlocutors have submitted their final report the Home Minister on October 12, 2011. The report is under consideration of the Government," it said in reply to an RTI query. Giving description of the expenses borne by the Ministry, it said Rs 1.5 lakh each per month was paid to Kumar and Padgaonkar and about Rs 1.43 lakh to Ansari as consolidated salary. Whereas, two of their assistants were paid Rs 40,000 each and another Rs 25,000 per month during their engagements with the interlocutors.

"Copy of the report submitted by the interlocutors on J-K cannot be provided under Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act, 2005," the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

The section bars "information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offense".

The interlocutors had paid a series of visits to the various districts of the state besides holding talks with locals and political parties with a view to work out a solution to several issues grappling the State.

(Agencies)