CAG report reveals embezzlement of funds to procure clothes, cleaning Srinagar

An amount of Rs 1.42 crore was allegedly embezzled while Rs 12.60 crore remained undistributed from the funds sanctioned by the authorities to pay gratuitous relief to families whose houses were either washed away or inundated for more than a week or fully damaged during 2014 devastating floods in this summer capital, a Comptroller and Auditor General report said. The Audit said an amount of Rs 1.66 crore was embezzled from the funds given to Srinagar Municipal Corporation and four PWD (Roads and Buildings) divisions of Srinagar to collection of garbage and its disposal in this summer capital. The Audit further found that Rs 12.29 lakh was misappropriated from the money given to procure blankets while nearly 25 per cent of the 20,435 tents brought at a cost of Rs 2.84 crore were lying unutilised. “At least 536 tents valuing Rs 34.04 lakh had gone missing during transit from Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam,” it added.

Guidelines for operation of SDRF envisages payment of gratuitous relief of Rs 1,300 per family for loss of clothing and Rs 1,400 for loss of utensils/household goods to families whose houses were either washed away or inundated for more than a week or fully damaged. The Audit noticed that relief amounting to Rs 12.60 crore was not provided to 46,680 eligible households. On the other hand, it said that gratuitous relief of Rs 1.42 crore was provided to ineligible families (Rs 91 lakh) and to families not affected by flood (Rs 50 lakh). It added that the state government provided between October 2014 to September 2015 Rs 2.14 crore under the SDRF to SMC for collection of garbage and its disposal at the land fill site located at Acchan in Srinagar after 2014 floods. The SMC incurred an expenditure o Rs 1.37 crore on collection of 73,435 Metric Tonne (MT) of gardage and its disposal at landfill site during September 17, 2014 to November 15, 2014.

However, the report observed that records showed that the number of tipper trucks and JCBs shown utilised by the SMC for garbage clearance in Srinagar city was at variance with the number verified by Ward Officers (Sanitary Inspectors). Payment for 441 days, 119 nights in respect of tipper trucks and 102 days and 22 night in respect of JCBs was made in excess of payments verified by Ward Officers. The amount involved was Rs 31.26 lakh, it said.

While the entire garbage accumulated due to floods in Srinagar was shown as collected and disposed of by SMC, Rs 1.30 crore provided to four PWD (R&B) divisions of Srinagar from the SDRF for restoration of washed out, damaged roads was also shown spent on lifting of garbage, clearance of drain between October 2014 and November 2014.

“The details of vehicles utilised by the Divisions for disposal of garbage, including the details of agencies from whom they were hired, were not on record. While the PWD claimed that the sanitation work done by them supplemented the work done by the SMC, the Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer SMC stated (June 2016) that the entire city had been cleaned and no area under SMC was left out or ignored during cleanliness drive,” it observed.

Hence, it said the expenditure of Rs 1.30 crore included in the works bills for restoration of roads could not be verified by audit.

The state government also authorized in September 2014 Jammu and Kashmir Industries Limited (JKI) to procure blankets for flood victims. “The JKI procured 50,000 blankets of approved specifications at a rate of Rs 290 per piece from two firms. Of these, 36000 blankets were issued to the Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar during September 2014 and 14,000 blankets were issued to five other districts during October 2014.

The Audit observed that an additional 19,105 blankets valuing Rs 50 lakh were also procured by DCs Jammu, Udampure, Srinagar, Anantnag, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kathua as well as Divisional Commissioner Jammu.

Out of this, 5,540 blankets, which is 29 per cent, were procured at rates between Rs 350 and Rs 700 per piece. “Additional cost from SDRF of 5,540 blankets procured t higher rates worked out to 12.29 lakh,” it said.

Meanwhile, the state government authorized JKI to procure tents for providing temporary shelters to families whose houses were fully damaged. “JKI procured 20,345 tents at a cost of Rs 13.26 crore.

The Audit noticed that 4,467 tents valuing Rs 2.84 crore were lying unutilized and 536 tents valuing Rs 34.04 lakh had gone missing during transit from Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam. “25 per cent of the tents procured valued at Rs 3.18 crore could not be used for the intended purpose,” it added.

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