NEW DELHI, May 18 � Massive leakage of Central funds earmarked for development of the North Eastern Region has led the Centre to mull setting up an exclusive wing of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and creation of a special post in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the region.
The attempts to tone up the monitoring mechanism also include proposals to firm up the administrative setup in the region by imposing various measures including fixed tenures for Central Government employees deputed to serve in the North-east.
The alleged Rs 1000 crore scam in North Cachar Hill district, frequent reports of leakage of Central funds and the unholy nexus between the bureaucrats, contractors and militants has led to re-thinking on part of the Centre and plans are on to further tighten the vigilance mechanism, sources said.
The CBI has also already taken over probe of the NC Hills financial scam after National Investigation Agency (NIA) completed probing the terror angle.
The concern also stems from the realisation that huge amounts of Central funds are proposed to be pumped into the region in coming years. For instance, the Centre proposes to spend Rs 50,000 crore for construction of roads during the 11th Plan period, while the 11th Plan outlay for Ministry DoNER is estimated at Rs 14,409.08 crore. The figures for other sectors including health and family welfare, social sector scheme are just as mind boggling.
The pressure is mounting on the Centre to work out a mechanism to plug the loopholes and ensure effective utilisation of the funds. The UPA Government during its first term was forced to suspend funding of social sector schemes in Manipur for several months after evidence of funds being siphoned off and reaching the hands of the militants came to light.
Sources said the Central Government was seriously considering the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee attached to the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) to set up a separate wing in the CVC to exclusively oversee utilisation of funds for projects in the North-east.
It was also recommended that a post of joint director in the CBI�s anti-corruption wing be created exclusively to handle cases of nexus among officials, and contractors militants.
The NDA regime had also initiated similar measures, when it requested the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to conduct concurrent audits of selected projects in the North-east.
Voicing its concern at the leakage of funds, the Parliamentary panel has said huge amounts of money are being spent on various projects in the NE and there is a feeling of misappropriation and siphoning of funds and that underground groups are receiving some portion of the funds.
�A post of joint director, CBI is required to be created for the NE, to look at such cases,� suggested the committee.
The Ministry of DoNER, the nodal agency for disbursement of funds and undertaking development projects had conveyed that it proposes to further strengthen the monitoring mechanism.
It proposes to go for third party monitoring of the Non lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), while the North Eastern Council (NEC) is also enlisting the services of regional institutes for monitoring and evaluation.
However, there is much left to be done, with the Parliamentary panel commenting that there are a lot of lacunae in the implementation of the schemes due to the money being siphoned off due to the nexus between insurgent groups and corrupt officials. There is a large-scale leakage of funds, the panel remarked.
The Parliamentary Committee reported that when the Ministry DoNER was asked to comment on the siphoning off and leakage of funds, it replied that there had been no specific reports in this matter.
�The Ministry is constantly endeavouring to up grade its monitoring mechanism to ensure proper utilisation of funds,� the officials were quoted as having said.
Meanwhile, a large number of vacancies in various Central Government organisations in the NE primarily owing to reluctance of the officials to serve in the region has also emerged as a cause of concern.
It has been suggested that officials of Central Government deputed to serve in the North-east should have a fixed tenure. The officials should be provided with attractive incentives, over and above the existing allowance.
At the same time action should be initiated against those officers who do not serve or are reluctant to work at the allotted places, it was recommended.