Castigating the Agriculture department for failing to make the Cold Storage built at Chenani in Jammu and Kashmir functional even after spending Rs 1.70 crore since 2006, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India said it was unfruitful expenditure.
The report said delayed completion of civil works of cold storage building at Chenani and failure to take up the works of installation of plant and machinery even after nine years rendered expenditure of Rs 1.70 crore unfruitful thereby defeating its objective of improving economic condition of the poor farmers.
It said that for improving economic condition of the poor farmers through stabilizing the prices by regulating the market period and supplies of vegetables and fruits, the construction of cold storage unit at Champari, Chenani was approved under District Plan Scheme by the District Development Board (DDB) Udhampur during the year 2004-05.
The cold storage was approved at a cost of Rs 1.10 crore—Rs 76.82 lakh civil works, Rs 30 lakh for machinery and Rs 3.20 lakh for contingencies and the project was to be completed within a year. The cost of the project was however, revised in July 2009 to Rs 1.93 crore and Rs 3.24 crore in 2011.
The delay in completing of civil works and cold storage building and failure to take up the works of installation of plant and machinery rendered the building idle and consequent expenditure of Rs 1.70 crore as unfruitful. CAG said that the director Finance Jammu and Kashmir Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited admitted in 2015 that the building could not be put to use in the absence of cold storage machinery due to inadequate funding.
Audit observed that the Director Agriculture, Jammu, and Chief Agriculture Officer Udhampur had not monitored the execution of project for its timely and purposeful completion. CAG said that the matter was referred to Jammu and Kashmir Government in May 2015 but the reply was not received as of September 2015.
However, the Chief Agriculture Officer said in August2015 that the work o construction got delayed and cost escalated due to inadequate building and that the building was taken over by the Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited whose prerogative was to complete the installation of the machinery to make the unit functional.