GUWAHATI, Jan 27 � Large-scale misappropriation of funds has become the order of the day as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found irregularities in all the departments, the finances of which were audited, and there have even been instances where contractors were paid in excess of the bills.
In its latest report, the CAG pointed out that payment of contractor's bills in excess of the legitimate dues in the Bordikorai irrigation scheme in Sonitpur district led to misappropriation of Rs 27 lakh, while, non-adherence of the financial rules resulted in fictitious payment of Rs 2.27 crore in the same project.
The report said that the executive engineer, Itakhola Irrigation Division, issued cheques amounting to Rs 63.71 lakh to 11 contractors between March, 2007 to February, 2007 against bills valued at Rs 39.29 lakh and the same officer passed the bills for only Rs 36.09 lakh. The contractors subsequently encashed the cheques, which led to misappropriation of Government funds amounting to Rs 27.62 lakh.
When the matter was reported, the Government accepted the audit contention in November, 2009 and assured that steps would be taken to recover the excess payment from the bills of the contractors. But the Government failed to inform the CAG about the status of recovery till August last year, the report said.
The CAG further pointed out that as per rules, every payment must be supported by relevant vouchers. But test check of the records showed that 92 vouchers relating to execution of different components relating to the execution of the Bordikorai Irrigation scheme involving payment of Rs 2.27 crore between March, 2005 and February, 2007 were not on record.
Though the payments were reflected in the cash book and monthly accounts, relevant vouchers were neither attached to the monthly accounts not produced for audit. In absence of vouchers in support of the payments, fictitious payment to the tune of Rs 2.27 crore cannot be ruled out and the matter is fraught with the risk of misappropriation of Government money, the report pointed out.
The matter was reported to the Government in October, 2009 and the audit observation was accepted by the Government. But reply from the Government on remedial measures taken was awaited till August last year, the CAG said in its report.
There were several other instances of financial irregularities in the Bordikorai irrigation scheme. The CAG report said that test check of the cash book and vouchers revealed that seven bills worth Rs 21.27 lakh was paid in February, 2007 prior to the receipt of the bills and those works were neither put to tender nor any comparative statements were prepared. The measurements were recorded in the measurement book with pencil and the same were not signed by the site engineer. The fact that such a case of fictitious payment remained undetected for three years reflects that the internal control system was not effective in the department, the CAG said in the report.
When the matter was reported, the Government stated that due to drought like situation in 2006, the work was taken up as an emergency measure. The Government also reported that the measurement book remained unsigned because of the oversight of the concerned junior engineer and the pencil entries were made due to the ignorance of the officer. The CAG, however, pointed out that the replies were not tenable as the incident not only violated the "codal provisions but also led to fictitious payment of Rs 21.27 lakh."
There was another instance of expenditure of Rs 2.50 lakh in renovation of a non existent part of the canal in the Bordikorai project. The CAG report pointed out that Rs 2.50 lakh was spent on "renovation of head regulator at chainage 8,508 metre of main canal". Interestingly, the length of the main canal is 8,459 metre and renovation of head regulator at 8,508 metre is a "physical impossibility".
The Government's reply that the length of the main canal was 8,508 metre was not tenable as not only the revised project report showed the length of the main canal as 8,459 metre, even the approved index map of the project showed the total length of the canal as the same, the CAG pointed out.