Nagaland: ‘Fraudulent payments’ of Rs 20.89 Cr in RD Department

Nagaland: ‘Fraudulent payments’ of Rs 20.89 Cr in RD Department

Nagaland: ‘Fraudulent payments’ of Rs 20.89 Cr in RD Department

Morung Express News
Kohima | February 19

The Nagaland Rural Development (RD) Department has come under the scanner of the Comptroller and Auditor Genera (CAG) of India for reportedly making “fraudulent payments” to the tune of Rs 20.89 crore. 

This includes “fraudulent payments” of Rs 14.68 crore without execution of works and Rs 6.21 crore payment without receipt of materials.

The CAG report for the year 2017-18 detected that technical personnel in charge of Block Development Offices recorded “fictitious entries” in measurement books and payments amounting to Rs 14.68 crore, made without actual execution of works in contravention of the provisions of General Financial Rules and MGNREGA guidelines. 

This was in relation to DRDAs in Wokha, Tuensang, Mokokchung and Longleng. The projects in question involved construction of rain water harvesting tanks, water reservoir tanks,  fishery/farm ponds, individual toilets, community toilets, improvement of internal village road, sanitation works and rubber, cardamom, betel nut plantations.

For all these cases, the government responded that while in some cases, the works were completed after the audit survey, in other cases; VDBs had diverted the funds for taking up other works. 

However, the CAG said that payments were made without ascertaining the physical progress of works and without recording the actual works executed in the measurement books.  

Meanwhile, the CAG also informed that department officers of four District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) did not observe the provisions of the financial rules relating to public purchase which resulted in “fraudulent payment” of Rs 6.21 crore. This also deprived job card holders the benefit of work site amenities, it added. 

In 2017, the State Employment Guarantee Council resolved to provide tent umbrellas and post hole diggers for 11 districts for effective implementation of the MGNREGA scheme.

In the same year, administrative approval was given for purchase of 1,071 post hole diggers and 3,118 tent umbrellas for work site amenities. They were meant to be distributed to 11 DRDAs. The supply order was awarded to the lowest bidder, M/s Elmer Agro Machineries and full payment was made in July 2017. 

The suppliers claimed that materials were supplied and all three test checked Project Directors of the DRDAs certified the receipt of the entire material. 

However, the CAG, on verification of 8 DRDAs, found that there were no entries in the registers regarding receipt and issue of the materials. It was instead found that payment was released on “false certification by the respective Project Directors.” 

This led to payment of Rs 2.58 crore without actual receipt of the materials, the CAG said. 

In addition, the three DRDAs issued supply orders in January 2018 to the supplier for 2,316 tent umbrellas for Rs 3.63 crore at government approved rate. Payment was made in March 2018 but no official of the three DRDAs had certified the actual receipt of the materials. 

Thus, the report found that “fraudulent payment” of Rs 6.21 crore was without actual receipt of the materials. 

To this, the government replied on October 2018 that the Project Director, Mokokchung had received the materials after records were examined by the audit, while for Wokha the materials could not be lifted from Dimapur due to fund constraint. They were subsequently lifted and distributed to the blocks, the government claimed. However, the government was not able to provide a reply on the receipt of materials by the Project Director, Tuensang.

Meanwhile, the report also found that according to the Taxation Department, the supplier firm (M/s Elmer Agro Machineries) had been de-registered in January 2017 and was not involved in any business activity thereafter. 

This led the CAG to conclude that the supplies were “doubtful” and there was “fraudulent payment”.

In all these cases, the CAG recommended that the government carry out thorough investigation and hold the erring officials responsible.