CAG flays Estates Deptt
STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: Criticising the Estates Department of Jammu and Kashmir, the CAG has said it had made “avoidable extra expenditure” of nearly Rs 33 crore due to non-adherence to norms and that 55 legislators had been allotted government accommodation despite their occupying flats in MLAs’ hostel.
The CAG, in its report tabled in the Assembly today, said “non-adherence to prescribed allotment norms or policy for accommodation in private hired hotels resulted in avoidable extra-expenditure to the tune of Rs 19.02 crore during the period 2010-11 to 2014-15.”
Also, it said, “non-eviction of unauthorised occupants resulted in avoidable expenditure of Rs 13.95 crore for hiring of private hotels and houses.”
Audit scrutiny showed that 55 legislators, including ministers, Chairman of Legislative Council and other legislators, who have been allotted government accommodation by the Estates at Jammu and Srinagar cities, were occupying accommodation at MLAs hostels at Jammu and Srinagar provided by the Legislative Assembly Secretariat.
It was a “clear violation” of a government order which prohibits dual allotment of accommodation to members of Legislature either at Srinagar or at Jammu or at both places, the CAG said.
It was also seen that two legislators had been provided accommodation by the Custodian Department apart from accommodation by the Estates Department and Legislative Assembly Secretariat, the report said.
As many as 146 government residential quarters of various categories had remained under the occupation of retired persons, family of allottees in case of death of allottees, former legislators and had not been vacated even after a lapse of prescribed permissible retention period, the report said.
The violators included 25 quarters under the occupation of former legislators, 110 quarters of retired allottees and 11 quarters of those allottees who died.
“…to reduce huge expenditure on hiring of private hotels or houses, long term perspective plan indicating actual requirement of accommodation and modalities for development of colonies was needed to be formulated by the department,” the CAG said, adding “It was, however, seen that the department had not formulated any long term perspective plan for development of colonies at Srinagar and Jammu.”
It said the audit scrutiny showed cases of non- utilisation of available land, delay in acquisition of additional land and non-completion of colonies within targeted time frame. The report said the government quarters constructed on over two acres of land at Khazir Manzil at Dalgate in Srinagar were gutted during 1989-90 but despite lapse of over 25 years, no plan was formulated for re-development of these colonies, the delay for which the department points to the objections raised by Lakes and Waterways Development Authority.
Land measuring nearly five hectares at Sidhra in Jammu was identified in January 2012 for construction of 400 flats but not taken over from the Jammu Development Authority due to non-payment of Rs 16.95 crore as the cost of land despite lapse of three years, the CAG report said.
It said the work on construction of 400 residential flats, approved in June 2012, for government employees at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu national highway was taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 85.92 crore for completion within three working seasons but had not completed as on March 2015 due to insufficent funding.
Audit scrutiny showed that the government had released Rs 5.30 crore during 2012-15 and against the targeted construction of 25 flocks, work in three blocks had been completed tothe extent of 40 to 95 per cent whereas work on remaining blocks was not started, it said.
The report said an amount of Rs 5.38 crores were outstanding due to non-existence of a system to ensure recovery of license fee and rent of shops.
“As many as 199 shops owned by the department had been transferred by the original allottees and the department had failed to take action against these allottees or unauthorised occupants,” the report said.
It said lack of effective internal control mechanism and non-maintenance of records led to non-detection of shortage of stores (Rs 2.44 crore) and non-accountal of items purchased (Rs 3.79 crore).
The CAG asked the government to put in place transparent system for allotment of accommodation and ensure adherence to allotment norms and to carry out thorough analysis of the requirement for hiring hotels and private houses to avoid excessive and irregular expenditure thereon.
It also called for an efficient license fee and rent recovery mechanism and effective tendering system for hiring of property besides ensuring efficient management of stores.