Govt takes serious note, seeks lists from all Deptts within one month

Illegalities in allotment of contracts, appointments since 2010
Stern action to be taken against erring officials

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 25: Taking serious note of the illegalities committed in the allotment of contracts and making of appointments during the period between 2010 and 2023, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has sought detailed reports in this regard from all the departments within one month for initiating necessary action.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that in a recent high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, the observations made by the Accountant General J&K during the extensive audit of the departments came up for detailed discussion.
Accordingly, the Chief Secretary directed all the Administrative Secretaries to frame lists of all contracts given on nomination/single source basis with effect from 2010 to 2023. The directions have also been given for submission of lists of backdoor appointments made with effect from 2010 to 2023 and the number of projects completed during this period.
“These lists should be furnished to the office of the Chief Secretary treating the matter as most urgent in any case not later than a month”, read an official communication, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
According to the sources, the Government, through Accountant General, has come to know that large number of contracts were given on nomination/ single source basis and without following the guidelines in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir particularly in the Public Health Engineering, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development Departments and Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation.
Similarly, several backdoor appointments were made in the Urban Local Bodies which fall under the administrative control of Housing and Urban Development Department, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council Secretariats in blatant violation of the laid down norms.
“The possibility of some contracts allotted in violation of norms even after creation of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be ruled out”, sources said, adding “on the basis of the lists to be submitted by the Administrative Secretaries to the Chief Secretary, necessary action will be taken against the officers, who had played key role in these illegalities and even beneficiaries”.
Disclosing that extensive audit of all the departments is being conducted by the Accountant General J&K, sources said that Government of J&K Union Territory wants to settle the pending Audit Paragraphs as early as possible so that embarrassment could be avoided before the Parliamentary Panel especially for the faults committed in the past.
“The Chief Secretary has given clear hints to the Administrative Secretaries that whosoever had facilitated the illegalities will not be spared”, sources informed.
They disclosed that Chief Secretary has also expressed deep concern regarding slow progress in reconciliation of pending Audit Paragraphs and asked all the Administrative Secretaries to complete the task of addressing the paragraphs in mission mode.
“DG Audit should hold reviews at weekly intervals in the matter and furnish report to the Chief Secretary regarding progress achieved. Moreover, addressing Audit Paragraphs will be a key component of evaluation of officers at all level”, read another official communication.
It is pertinent to mention here that copies of the contracts and agreements of the departments are required to be submitted to AG’s office for detailed examination. “However, there is slackness on the part of several departments in this regard leading to obstacles in conducting audit of the expenditure”, sources said.
They further said that scrutiny of the contracts and agreements entered into by the departments on behalf of the Government constitutes one of the important functions of the Audit office. The objective of such a scrutiny is to see whether the contracts or agreements have not led to loss or wastage of public money and also to ensure that the rules and regulations provide reasonable security against malpractices.
“Non-submission of copies of contracts and agreements to Accountant General (Audit) leads to enough chances of malpractices remaining undetected, which otherwise are required to be checked in order to ensure financial discipline in the departments”, sources said, adding vide Circular No.09 dated February 14, 2019 all the departments were asked to immediate measures and have Action Taken Notes on the audit paragraphs furnished to the Accountant General on regular basis.