Rs 295 cr worth works executed without approval CAG indicts R&B for blocking Rs 140 cr on roads

By Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Apr 8: The Roads and Buildings department has created a liability of  Rs 110.82 crore for the Government due to execution of unapproved works and has resulted in blocking public money to the tune of over Rs 140.34 crore on 112 roads and 81 building projects due to works taken up on disputed sites.
This information has been given in the report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India for the year ended March 31, 2011, presented in the J&K Legislature recently. The CAG has put the State R&B authorities in the dock for several financial irregularities and violation of  rules with impunity. Besides pointing out financial liability to the tune of Rs 110.82 crore, the CAG team involved in the audit also pointed out that due to  non-procurement of  sufficient construction material, eight executing divisions spent Rs 62.47 crore on the procurement of material from open market and incurred an extra expenditure of Rs 1.04 crore.
The report clearly pointed out that due to works taken up on as many as 112 roads and 82 building projects, by the department officials at the helm of affairs have resulted in the blocking of public money to the tune of over Rs 140.34 crore. Not only this, the diversion of Rs 16.50 crore meant for roads to some other schemes has also been detected. It has defeated the actual purpose and impacted the schemes for which the funds were approved. The report accused the department of delay caused in release of funds in most of the schemes which affected the project implementation. It said the Financial rules provide that no work shall be taken up for execution unless sufficient funds are provided and no liability shall be created except under special orders of the Government. However, it has been noticed that huge unauthorized liability of Rs 110.82 crores in respect of 1328 works has been created only due to execution of works without seeking administrative approval.
It revealed that unrealistic estimation has led to the cost over-run over the original estimates in 1803 road works. The cost over-run of Rs 27.52 crores was witnessed in 98 roads and 45 building works. Besides this, the time over-run of one to nine (9) years was seen in 167 roads and 220 building works. The CAG while taking serious note of these irregularities, has observed that internal control mechanism, effective monitoring and quality control of works were virtually non-existent.
Referring to financial irregularities on the historic Mughal Road project, the CAG pointed out that for ensuring effective financial management, the funds are to be utilized in full during the year. It was noticed that the Chief Engineer, Mughal Road project, surrendered over Rs 248.45 crore from 2006 to 2011 by three Divisions under it. The surrendering of funds indicates poor financial management.
The target date of completion of Mughal road had been extended up to March 2013 with a revised cost of Rs 639.85 crore against the original cost of Rs 255 crore. The delay in completion was attributed to delayed environmental clearance and de-novo survey conducted by a private firm for the road alignment. On Narbal-Tangmarg road estimated cost of Rs 38 crore was revised to Rs 116 crores. A cost over run of Rs 78 crore as on March 2011 has been witnessed due to land dispute. It said the funds released by the State Government are scheme-specific and are to be utilized on specified items only. It was seen that eight, out of  32 test-checked divisions has diverted Rs 7.22 crore to other schemes. Besides, Rs 9.08 crore meant for maintenance and repairs had also been diverted by 18 divisions during 2006-11 on 354 new schemes.
The report further pointed out that the divisional officers are required to obtain the Utilization Certificates (UCs) for the money advanced by them. However, 27 R&B Divisions including 13 from  Kashmir and 14 from Jammu out of 32 test-checked divisions had not obtained UCs against the advances worth Rs 321.28 crore made to various Collectors, Land Acquisition/ JKPCC during the period from 2006-11. The period of delay was found on the range from one to ten years. As per the Financial rules, the Executive Engineer is authorized to sanction excess over estimates of works up to 5 %. It was seen that Xens in 21 divisions including 13 in Kashmir and 8 in Jammu out of 32 test -checked divisions had authorized excess over estimates in execution of 1803 works with the cost of Rs 195 crore during the period. In the category up to 100 % nearly 922 works fall, from 101 to 200% 441 works, 201 to 500 % 333 works and so on.
Referring to the execution of works without administrative approval  and technical sanctions the report said as per Rule 9.3 of the State Financial Code, obtaining of Adm approval and technical sanction is a pre-requisite for taking up a project. The records of 32 divisions revealed that 1301 works had been executed at the cost of Rs 294.66 crore during 2006-11 without approvals and technical sanctions. It was found that 112 works taken up for execution by 32 test checked divisions had been lying incomplete due to land dispute (54 cases), for forest clearance (4 cases), inadequate funding (33 cases), improper planning(9) and 12 others. The expenditure of Rs 128.28 crore incurred thereon had proved unproductive as on March 2011.
It has been revealed that against 1196 schemes sanctioned under NABARD to be completed by 2010-11, only 725 (61 %) schemes had been completed, the rest 471 could not be completed due to non-release of matching share by State Government worth Rs 373.11 crore by April 2011. Out of the 49 schemes taken up under Central Roads Fund (CRF) during 2006-11, 30 schemes were due for completion by March 2011. It has been seen that only four (4) had been completed thereby registering shortfall of 87 %.  It was found that Rs 211.28 crore had been spent on 26 incomplete schemes.
The test-check of records  of 12 divisions (  8 Kashmir and 4 Jammu), revealed that in violation of rules and financial code,  the Executive Engineers had split 59 works to the tune of Rs 90.76 crore to keep the works within their delegated powers and awarded the contracts to 845 contractors without involving the contract committee/ CEs/SEs. It has also been noticed that 124 buildings completed at the cost of Rs 28.65 crore one to three years back had not been handed over to the indenting departments resulting in idle investment. The reasons there for were not assigned.