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CAG’s recommendations for streamlining functioning of PHE, I&FC gathering dust

Schemes being taken without adherence to guidelines

No focus on manpower mgmt, preparation of Perspective Plan

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 14: Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s recommendations aimed at streamlining functioning of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Departments have been gathering dust due to absolute non-seriousness on the part of those at the helm of affairs in these departments.
Due to this, there is no focus on manpower management and preparation of Perspective Plan and schemes are still being taken up without strict adherence to the guidelines and prioritization leading to inordinate delay in their completion.
The supreme audit institution of the country in its Audit Report 2015-16 had revealed that there was no focus on manpower management in the Public Health Engineering Department.
“Against sanctioned staff strength of 23,941 under various categories, the effective staff strength was 19,233. Although there was overall shortage of 20% of the sanctioned strength, shortage of staff was more in the cadres of Assistant Engineers (19%), Junior Assistants (49%) and other categories (20%), which were mainly field staff. Moreover, the non-regular persons were 167% of the regular staff”, the CAG had pointed out in Audit Report.
It was also mentioned in the report that Human Resources Management branch had finalized seniority lists of SEs, Executive Engineers, AEEs and JEs between 2012 and 2016 but these had not been updated. “The HRM branch had not carried out its responsibilities fully as mandated thereby defeating the purpose of streamlining the human resource development functions of the department”, the CAG had stated while mentioning that no activity related to periodic review of HRM was ever attempted by the department.
When the Committee on Public Accounts, while examining the audit paragraph of CAG asked the PHE Department to explain the steps taken for streamlining Human Resources Management, the representatives of the department told the House Panel that in order to computerize the personal records of huge workforce full-fledged HRM Section was absolutely necessary.
“HRM Section in PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Departments has skeleton staff and in view of limited institutional capacity to develop software and create appropriate IT solutions for computerizing the record, it has been felt appropriate to seek guidance of IT Department/NIC in developing customized IT solutions/software for the purpose”, the representatives of the department told the House Panel.
It was also submitted before the Committee on Public Accounts that human and technological recourse in HRM Section will be sought to be appropriately strengthened in due course of time.
While expressing dis-satisfaction over the reply of the department, the House Panel has observed, in its latest report, that no progress related to periodic review of Human Resource Manage-ment was achieved by the department. Due to this, the CAG’s recommendations have remained unimplemented.
Similar is the fate of the CAG’s recommendations vis-à-vis preparation of Perspective Plans by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department so as to ensure effective planning, prioritizing and executing the schemes.
When the Committee on Public Accounts asked the department to explain the steps taken for preparation of Perspective Plan, it was submitted by the departmental representatives that there was no departmental specific Perspective Plan regarding the entire irrigation network.
“Indus Water Treaty is itself a Perspective Plan beyond which the State cannot go ahead. The new schemes including Lift Irrigation Schemes are prepared as per the ground requirement which is duly finalized in consultation with the public representatives after having a persistent demand of the public”, the department conveyed to the House Panel.
Stating that schemes are undertaken and prioritized after taking into consideration the need of the area, demand of general public and irrigation potential of the area, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department categorically told the House Panel that there was no specific document of Perspective Plan. However, five years District Irrigation Plans are being prepared under some Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
Expressing concern over the stance of the department, the Committee on Public Accounts said, “there is dire need of the Perspective Plan as recommended by the CAG. The reply furnished by the department only envisaged about the Perspective Planning but nothing has been done with regard to this on the ground”.
All this clearly indicates that those at the helm of affairs in the Irrigation and Flood Control Department don’t want to bring an end to the practice of taking up of schemes without prioritization and without adhering to the guidelines of the schemes. Moreover, no strategy has been formulated for utilization of created Irrigation Potential.

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