After 26 yrs, Govt wakes up to conduct enquiry into embezzlement of funds

Officials’ panel fails to meet deadline for probe into IWMP liabilities

Enquiry Officer unaware of ground behind belated step

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 19: Incredible it may sound but it is a fact that Government has initiated an enquiry into the embezzlement of funds which had taken place in the Rural Development Department nearly 26 years back. Moreover, a committee of officers has failed to meet the deadline for completion of probe into huge liabilities created by the Project Managers of Integrated Watershed Management Project (IWMP).
“Sanction is hereby accorded to the appointment of Director, Rural Development Kashmir as Inquiry Officer to conduct the departmental enquiry against the delinquent officers/officials involved in misappropriation/embezzlement in the Rural Development Department made in district Anantnag in the year 1993”, read the Government Order No.26 issued by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj yesterday.
The Enquiry Officer has been asked to submit report/findings along with the specific recommendations to the Administrative Department within a period of one month. However, no justification behind ordering enquiry into embezzlement which had taken place nearly 26 years back has been mentioned in the order.
“What purpose the enquiry after more than two and half decades will serve remains a million dollar question”, official sources said, adding “it is absolutely impossible for the Enquiry Officer to lay hands on the documents which will establish embezzlement as such the decision of the Government to conduct departmental enquiry after nearly 26 years is not going to serve any purpose”.
When contacted, Director Rural Development Kashmir Qazi Sarwar, who has been appointed as Enquiry Officer, fanned ignorance about the reasons behind ordering departmental enquiry after such a long period. “Though I will perform the task assigned to me by the Administrative Department yet nothing could be said about the results which the enquiry will yield”, he added.
Sources disclosed that Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has issued Government Order No.26 dated January 18, 2019 on the request of the General Administration Department made during an official meeting convened recently.
“May be the General Administration Department wants to pave the way for promotion of some of the official(s) who were allegedly involved in the embezzlement and are still in the Government service but the fact remains that ordering departmental enquiry after nearly 26 years is merely a formality and will not yield any desirable result”, sources further said.
Meanwhile, a committee of officers has failed to meet the deadline for completion of enquiry into the liabilities created in the implementation of the projects under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) in the districts of Anantnag, Baramulla and Kulgam.
Vide Government Order No.270 dated October 23, 2018 the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj had constituted a committee to verify the liabilities created in the implementation of the projects under IWMP in these districts.
The mandate of the committee comprising of Director Planning of Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Executive Engineer Rural Engineering Wing Srinagar and Accounts Officer, Directorate of Rural Development Kashmir was to verify the records including the date of start and date of completion of works; to physically verify the works executed on the ground; to corroborate that the works executed fall within the purview of Detailed Project Report or not and whether the works executed are covered under the guidelines of IWMP—the nature of works, work is within the project area and work is for community benefit etc.
The committee had to submit its report to the Government within a period of 15 days but till date it has even not completed the process of detailed examination of the documents relating to the liabilities, sources said, adding “no time-frame can be specified for the completion of task as after completion of documents’ scrutiny the committee will have to pay visit to the fields for physical inspection of the works executed without authorization of the higher authorities”.
“Actually, there was no mechanism to monitor the works being executed under IWMP as a result of irregularities took place at many places”, sources said. However, Governor’s Administration has started paying required attention towards ensuring utmost transparency in the implementation of IWMP.