BJP’s two faces on CAG report
Posted December 22, 2012on:
The sanctity of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports for the BJP depends upon whether the party is in power or in opposition. At the Centre the BJP is in opposition and it not only insists on a discussion on CAG reports but stalls Parliament to have its way. In Madhya Pradesh the party is in power and so its approach is different.
When the opposition Congress sought a discussion on the CAG report in the Assembly on Thursday, Speaker Ishwardas Rohani said that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is constituted to specifically examine the CAG report. The not-so-vigorous demand by the Opposition members had little effect on the attitude of the Speaker or the treasury benches. The House, though, had to be adjourned for a brief period a couple of times. The CAG report for Madhya Pradesh for the year, ended March 2011, was placed in the House earlier in the week.
The reluctance of the BJP government to discuss the CAG report in the House can have only one reason. The report exposes the arbitrary manner in which the Government has been conducting its business, little caring for the lapses pointed out by the CAG in various works. The CAG report says that the authorities are required to comply with the observations contained in the inspection reports, promptly rectify the defects/omissions and report their compliance to the Auditors “within four weeks of their receipt”. As of June 30, 2011, 12.737 inspection reports were outstanding against civil departments of the State. Of these, 7102 were pending for more than five years.
Rs 4000 crore loss
The report estimates a loss of over Rs 4000 crore to the exchequer because of the wrong-doings of the State government. Perhaps the most arbitrary decisions were taken by the government in the matters of acquisition and allotment of lands.
The land has been chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s first love and he has been obliging his friends and party men generously. At least in one case, his government had committed a fraud by seeking objections (as required under the law) for different khasra numbers while actually acquiring land with different khasra numbers. He had almost allotted this prime land on the banks of river Narmada to his party colleague and Rajya Sabha member Anil Madhav Dave but for the ruckus created by a minister at the cabinet meeting. The chief minister had to hurriedly cancel the allotment process. The minister was, naturally, thrown out of the cabinet and later he quit the party also.
CAG notes that centralised database on acquisition of private land, payment of compensation to land losers, custody and allotment of government land had not been maintained at the State level. The Government has not prescribed a uniform and transparent method for calculation of market value of land. CAG noticed that market value of land was prima facie erroneously determined by different methods leading to under-assessment of compensation of Rs 6.91 crore in 46 cases and excess payment of compensation of Rs 12.76 crore in 23 cases.
“Avoidable expenditure” of Rs 5.88 crore was incurred on payment of additional compensation due to delay, from one to 22 months, in passing award.
Similarly, there was no comprehensive and transparent policy for allotment of Government land which would have facilitated equal opportunity to every desirable entity. “Substantial revenue of Rs 33.66 crore was lost” due to allotment of Government land to different bodies and organisations at lower rates in contravention of the prescribed provisions. Realisation of revenue was withheld due to absence of time limit for finalisation of lease cases in case of advance possession and initiating recovery proceedings against the defaulters.
CAG finds the management of Government land also “poor”. It says that land measuring 1979.594 hectares, acquired by Industry Department, was not utilised for industrial development. No periodic physical verification of Government lands was conducted as required. In four districts, 171.076 hectares of Government land was not utilised by the allottees for purposes mentioned in allotment orders and no action was taken to resume the lands. In 12 test-checked districts, 13152 encroachment cases were not finalised.
The absence of consolidated details of Government land allotted/leased at the apex level was, according to the CAG report, attributed by the revenue department (which is the modal department for the purpose) to non-submission of monthly progress report of land acquired and allotted in the district by the district revenue authorities in spite of repeated instructions issued by the department. It is apparent that the department has not attached due seriousness to “non-availability of such vital information and its negative impact on governance in a sensitive and people-centric matter like land”. The CAG noted the absence of a “rational policy” for allotment of Government land.
In the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the CAG found underutilisation of the funds, provided by the Centre in its implementation. The targets, too, had not been achieved. It says that till March 2011, the Government of India had sanctioned Rs 9989.84 crore under the PMGSY and the State government was able to spend only Rs 7136.30 crore. The PMGSY is a 100 per cent centrally funded programme.
The programme envisaged provision of rural road connectivity to 8459 villages in the State by construction of 37,021 km all-weather black topped roads. Against a target of 8459 roads, only 6229 roads were constructed as of 2010-11. The Audit report specifically notes that the planning for the road work was deficient. Approved road lengths were reduced by 557.84 km resulting in excess drawl of Central assistance under PMGSY to the extent of Rs 103.20 crore. Expenditure on 42 “partially constructed roads and substantially abandoned roads” led to a wasteful expenditure of Rs 1.60 crore. There was excess payment of Rs 6.99 crore to the contractors due to inflated measurement of work done. Besides, Rs 54.61 crore was pending recovery against several contractors. There was violation of contractual provisions by way of non-insurance of roads, resulting in undue financial aid of Rs 1.19 crore to the contractors.