SRINAGAR, July 7: Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found that delayed completion of civil works of cold storage building at Chenani in Udhampur district of Jammu region and failure to take up the works of installation of plant and machinery even after nine years rendered expenditure of Rs 1.70 crore unfruitful thereby defeating its objective of improving economic condition of the poor farmers.
The CAG in its report said for improving economic condition of the poor farmers through stabilising the prices by regulating the market period and supplies of vegetables/ fruits, the construction of cold storage unit at Champari, Chenani was approved under District plan scheme by the District Development Board Udhampur during the year 2004-05.
“For this purpose, the Executive Engineer (EE) (R&B) Division Udhampur on the authority (March 2006) of Chief Agriculture Officer Udhampur submitted (June 2006) application for accord of administrative approval for construction of cold storage unit to the Superintending Engineer PWD (R&B) Circle Udhampur at a cost of Rs 1.10 crore (Civil works: Rs 76.82 lakh; plant and machinery: Rs 30 lakh and Contingencies etc: Rs 3.20 lakh),” the CAG report read.
The project was to be completed in one year, said the CAG report, adding that the cost of the project was, however, revised (July 2009) to Rs 1.93 crore (Civil works: Rs 1.49 crore; plant and machinery: Rs 34 lakh and Contingencies etc: Rs 9.56 lakh) and to Rs 3.24 crore in June 2011.
Audit check (February 2014) of records of EE, PWD (R&B) Division Udhampur showed that the construction of civil works of the project was taken up in May 2007 and completed in March 2012 after incurring an expenditure of Rs 1.70 crore. “The cold storage building was handed over by the Division to the Jammu and Kashmir State Agro Industries Development Corporation in October 2013 which could not be put to use due to non-installation of plant and machinery.
“The Executive Engineer Mechanical Division Udhampur had submitted (February 2011) estimate of Rs 1.56 crore for installation of plant and machinery after being approached by the EE, R&B, Division Udhampur in November 2010,” the CAG found. The CAG said that the delay in completion of civil works of the Cold Storage Building and failure to take up the works of installation of plant and machinery rendered the building idle and consequent expenditure of Rs 1.70 Crore as unfruitful.
The Director Finance Jammu and Kashmir Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited admitted (April 2015) to the CAG that the building could not be put to use in absence of cold storage machinery due to inadequate funding. Audit observed that the Director Agriculture Jammu and Chief Agriculture Officer Udhampur had not monitored the execution of project for its timely and purposeful completion.
“On being pointed out in audit, EE, R&B Division Udhampur stated (February 2014) that the installation of mechanical components were in progress, whereas the EE, Mechanical Division Udhampur stated (April 2015) that matter with regard to installation of machinery had not been taken up with it earlier. The reply was not convincing as the agency for installation of plant and machinery was not identified prior to start of work,” the CAG report said.
“The delayed completion of civil works of Cold Storage building at Chenani and failure to take up the works of installation of plant and machinery rendered expenditure of Rs 1.70 crore unfruitful. The project had not been completed after over nine years of its conception thereby defeating its objective of improving economic condition of the poor farmers,” the CAG said.
It said that the matter was referred to the Government in May 2015. “The reply was not received as of September 2015. However, the Chief Agriculture Officer stated (August 2015) that the work of construction got delayed/ cost escalated due to inadequate funding and that the building was taken over by the Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited whose prerogative was to complete the installation of the machinery to make the unit functional,” the CAG report concluded.
Rs 1.70 cr expenditure on Chenani cold storage unfruitful: CAG