CAG Report: In Himachal Pradesh, tenders were allotted with mutual nexus of contractors. 92,849 kg bleaching powder was supplied after three months of expiry. Undue benefits were given to the contractors even after widening the road.
The Public Works Department also recovered less amount for laying of optical fiber cable. These revelations have come in the Financial Year 2021-22 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
According to the report, in Bharmour sub-division, only one pucca road has been declared as unpaved. Purchased 976 Chloroscope for Rs.16.85 Lakh. They were not used to test the amount of chlorine in drinking water.
Fraudulent Payment on Bogus Entries
According to this report, the Public Works Department has falsified the payment on fake entries in the books including 3.34 crore infructuous expenditure on the incomplete road construction work. Due to nexus, an undue benefit of 38 lakh was given to the contractor.
There was negligence in the construction of Jablahi Nala-Barnota Karkoh road including the bridge under NABARD to provide transport facility in Kotli, Mandi.
The CAG recommended the government to ensure investigation and accountability against officials of the Public Works Department. Less recovery of due amount for digging done for laying optical fiber cable on road sides.
Public Works Department got Short Recovery of 55 Lakhs
Records of the Bharmour division revealed that in the year 2018, an estimate of 2.65 crores was sent to the telecom operator for the repair of a 26.10-kilometer road coming in the tribal area from Garola to Deol.
In the estimate, five-kilometer road was shown as unpaved, whereas the road turned out to be paved. The rate was fixed at Rs 1,121 per kilometer for a pucca road, Rs 238 for digging along a kutcha road.
Due to this the Public Works Department made less recovery of 55 lakhs. From the year 2016 to 2021, 1717 drinking water schemes worth Rs 2618.28 crore were approved without determining technical feasibility.
The Government could not even set up a state-level Laboratory
The Jal Shakti Department gave 92,849 kg of bleaching powder worth Rs 22.83 crore to the field three months after its expiry. From 2019 to 2021, 84,000 water samples were to be tested in district laboratories, but 56,238 samples were tested.
From the year 2016 to 2021, everything was not going well in the Jal Shakti Department. The government could not even set up its own state-level laboratory, which has been recognized by the Centre.
At present, out of total 59 laboratories, 43 are centrally accredited. The samples tested in these also revealed that many diseases could have spread through contaminated water. The department purchased 976 chloroscopes for Rs 16.85 lakh. They were not used to test the amount of chlorine in drinking water.
For the widening of 10-kilometer stretch of Sainj-Choupal-Nerwa-Shallu road in Shimla district, the department extended undue favor to the contractor by paying 86 percent of the amount upfront.
Crores not Deposited in NPS Scheme of Employees
The CAG has revealed that during the tenure of the previous government, crores of rupees were not deposited in the NPS of the employees. During the year 2021-22, there was a total contribution of 1,133.19 crore in the National Pension System.
In this, employee contribution was 474.41 crore and government 658.75 crore and interest was three lakh. The government transferred Rs 1,126.55 crore from the main head Limited Contribution Pension Scheme to the National Security Depository Limited.
In this, employee contribution was 470.17 crore, and government contribution was 656.38 crore. That means the government contributed less by Rs 5.42 crore in NPS.
The Limited Contribution Pension Scheme for key top government employees has a balance of 14.30 crores after depositing the initial balance of 7.66 crores till 31st March 2022.
Till March 31, 2021, the state government neither made provision nor paid interest of 54 lakhs on NPS balance of 7.66 crores.
CAG made these Recommendations for Economic Management
- The government should find ways to reduce committed expenditure so that more funds can be made available for development expenditure.
- Given the high cost of borrowing, the government should find ways to ensure a fair return on capital invested in state public sector undertakings to generate profits.
- The government has been weak in recovering loans advanced to various sectors, so the state government treats loans and advances as grants and books them as revenue expenditure to reflect their true position in services.
- Government should ensure time-bound completion of incomplete projects to avoid further cost escalation.
- The division of work done by the executive engineers of the Public Works Department should be rigorously investigated and accountability should be ensured.
- Detailed Investigation of Bid Collusion Investigation.
- Appropriate action should be taken after checking fake entries.