Funds allocated for relief to J&K flood-hit embezzled: CAG
THE Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) of Anantnag’s Breng block has been suspended after a banner on ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign featured separatist leader Asiya Andrabi as an achiever alongside Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and other personalities.
In a major embarrassment for the Jammu and Kashmir Government, the banner aimed at highlighting the women achievers of the country was hoisted at a function held to promote education for girls in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area.
It also featured tennis star Sania Mirza, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi among others. “The CDPO, Shamima, has been placed under suspension and an inquiry has been ordered into the incident,” Mohammad Yunus Malik told PTI. 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 garbage 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 byWard 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 Govt also authorised 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, 36,000 blankets were issued to the Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar during September 2014.
The CAG Audit found that Rs 12.29 lakh was misappropriated from the money given to procure blankets.