*Finance, R&B Deptts yet to act against FA, 4 XEns
JAMMU, Feb 15: In the much-publicized Rs 27 crore worth liability in the J&K Housing Board created due to execution of various works on political pressure and without following the laid down guidelines, the then Acting Managing Director and present Secretary of the Board has shown defiance to the charge-sheet served under Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956. Moreover, the Administrative Secretaries of the Roads and Buildings and Finance Departments have not taken action against four Executive Engineers and Finance Advisor, who were also responsible for depleting financial reserves of the Board by flouting the norms.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that works worth Rs 27 crore were carried out by J&K Housing Board merely on the directions of the then Minister for Housing, Raman Bhalla instead of obtaining approval from the competent authority as a result of which the financial reserves of the Board got depleted considerably.
When this issue came to the public domain, the Housing and Urban Development Department constituted three-member committee Vide Communication No.178-HUD of 2015 dated July 14, 2015 and on the basis of findings of the committee, it was decided to proceed against the erring officers—the then Managing Director of J&K Housing Board, five Executive Engineers and a Financial Advisor, who together had succumbed to political pressure and created Rs 27 crore worth liability.
Accordingly, Vide Communication No.HUD/HB/ 06-07/2014-II dated November 11, 2016, the Commissioner/ Secretary to Government Housing and Urban Development Department, Hirdesh Kumar served charge-sheet upon the then MD of Housing Board and presently Secretary of the Board, Ram Pal Sharma and DGM (Executive Engineer) of the Board Aftab Rashid Pandit under Rule 33 of J&K Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956.
Since four other delinquent Executive Engineers and Financial Advisor, who were shifted from J&K Housing Board during the pendency of enquiry by three-member committee, are presently posted in R&B and Finance Departments, the charge-sheets to be served upon them were forwarded to their respective Administrative Secretaries.
As per the J&K CCA Rules, the charge-sheeted officers are required to respond within a maximum period of 21 days. However, only Executive Engineer Aftab Rashid Pandit has submitted written statement of defence while as the then Managing Director and presently Secretary of the Board Ram Paul has shown defiance to the charge-sheet by not filing response within the stipulated time-frame, official sources said.
“Moreover, whether Administrative Secretaries of Finance and Roads and Buildings Departments have served charge-sheet and whether the delinquent officials have furnished written statement of defence remain a mystery till date”, they added.
When contacted, Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Housing and Urban Development Department, Hirdesh Kumar Singh confirmed that only one Executive Engineer has responded to the charge-sheet while as Secretary of the Housing Board has shown defiance. “I have approached the Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development for his approval to the issuance of final notice to Secretary of the Housing Board”, he said.
“If he fails to respond to the final notice also the department will presume that he has nothing to state in his defence and accordingly disciplinary proceedings will be held ex-parte and action initiated against him”, the Housing Secretary said in reply to a question.
About four Executive Engineers and one Financial Advisor, Hirdesh Kumar Singh said, “the R&B and Finance Departments were required to inform us about service of charge-sheet and reply received if any from the delinquent officers but we are still in dark about our request made in the month of November last year”.
“The action against four Executive Engineers and one Financial Advisor is required to be taken by these two departments but they have to keep us informed as liability was created in Housing Board”, the Commissioner/Secretary Housing and Urban Developm-ent said while disclosing that he will shortly write to Administrative Secretaries of Roads and Buildings and Finance Departments to ascertain the status of the charge-sheet submitted to them for onward service.
It is pertinent to mention here that the three-member committee has explicitly mentioned in the report that prescribed guidelines were not followed at any level during the execution of Rs 27.60 crore worth works and the responsibilities/duties associated with the officers of Managing Director, Financial Advisor, Deputy General Managers (DGMs) and Technical Officers were not discharged diligently.
“Works have been undertaken without any budgetary provision thereby depleting the financial reserves of the Board which are meant for the welfare of the employees like salaries, pensions and other benefits to the serving and retired employees of the Board”, the enquiry committee said, adding “funds were released to the Engineering Sections/ Divisions by the Accounts Section without ensuring that requisite codal formalities are followed by the Executing Agencies-Deputy General Managers of the Housing Board”.
Moreover, it has also been found that works were executed without any approval of the works plan and disbursements made without prior approval of the competent authority.