Friday, April 6, 2012

CAG puts Irrigation Edu Deptts in dock

Putting the Irrigation and Flood Control and Education Departments in the dock over blocking of nearly Rs 11 crore, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has detected that these departments were only concerned over registering expenditure of huge amounts on the projects instead of obtaining necessary clearances, which were pre-requisite as per the laid down guidelines.

The report said that in order to create irrigation potential of 3,500 acres for hitherto uncultivable land and to overcome drought like situation, the Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Jammu, in July 2007, awarded contract for three water storage schemes (construction of RCC check dams) on Yakh nullah, river Basanter and river Devak under hundred per cent Government of India sponsored scheme—Border Area Development Programme to M/s UAN Raju Construction Ltd, Vishakhapatnam, for completion in eight months.

As per the directions of the Government of India issued in November 2006, the design and drawings of all the check dams were to be approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC) before their implementation.

However, during scrutiny of the records of the Chief Engineer it came to fore that despite spending Rs 8.67 crore, the schemes had not been completed as on March 2011.

"Despite the fact that contractor had either not taken up the works at all or the pace of work, wherever taken up, had been tardy, the Department had all along (2005 to 2011) booked expenditure on procurement of material on all three works", the report said.

"The department had, in addition, paid interest free mobilization advance to the contractor, which apart from being prohibited resulted in extension of undue benefit to the contractor", the report said, adding out of the payment of mobilization advance of Rs 83.91 lakh, Rs 5.39 lakh only had been recovered from the executed portion of the works and the balance Rs 78.52 lakh continued to be retained by the contractor for the last four years.

The department was either evasive or didn’t reply at all to the audit queries regarding allotment of works without ensuring vetting of designs by the Central Water Commission, booking of huge amounts on material against the works, which had either been taken up partially or not taken up at all, payment of mobilization advance and subsequent failure to ensure start/ re-start of works by the contractor, the report said, adding "no cogent reasons for delay in completion, despite huge spending, were furnished".

The Department failed to adhere to the instructions of the Government of India in getting the designs of the projects vetted from the CWC before execution and subsequently failed to ensure execution of works, it said, adding "this resulted in blocking of Rs 8.67 crore and defeated the intended purpose".

"The matter was referred to the Government/ department in August 2011. However, in response the Chief Engineer while confirming the status of the project as pointed out by audit, didn’t furnish any reasons for delays in completion of the project", the CAG observed.

About the Education Department, the report said that in July 2003 the Government of India approved up-gradation of the State Institute of Education, Jammu to the level of Institute of Educational Management and Training (SIEMAT) subject to the furnishing of a proposal by the State Government and also taking over of the project once its central funding was over. A provision of Rs three crore was kept for the project in the Xth Plan under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

The scrutiny of the records of the State Project Director, Ujalla Society, J&K (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) in February 2011 revealed that the State Government proposal forwarded to the Government of India in July 2005 was returned for modification in the light of certain observations made by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA).

"In anticipation of clearance of the project by the State Government, the Society received Rs 2.10 crore from the Government of India for implementation of the project out of which the Society released Rs 60 lakh in favour of SIE, Jammu, which was lying un-utilized as of February 2011", the report said, adding "the balance Rs 1.50 crore had been diverted by the Society without approval of the grant sanctioning authority for other spillover works not covered under the programme".

The CAG said that Society had not maintained project-wise details of the funds received by it and the funds for all the projects were amalgamated and consolidated Utilization Certificates were submitted annually to the grant sanctioning authority without giving project-wise details of receipts/ expenditure figures.

Though in February 2011, the Project Director stated that the project had not been cleared by the State Government and every effort was being made to finalize it yet the CAG found the reply as non tenable. "The Society should not have released or utilized the funds for activities not covered under the programme without clearance of the project by the State Government", the report said.

The CAG also observed that lack of monitoring of the approved projects by the Government, non-existent internal controls in the Society coupled with inaction of the Government in finalizing the project resulted in blocking of Rs 60 lakh for the period ranging between 36 and 46 months and diversion of Rs 1.50 crore.

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