Soil & Water Conservation Dept misappropriated Rs 3.59 Cr: CAG

Soil & Water Conservation Dept misappropriated Rs 3.59 Cr: CAG

Soil & Water Conservation Dept misappropriated Rs 3.59 Cr: CAG

Says Directorate fabricated APRs


Morung Express News
Dimapur | February 26 

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has detected that the Department of Soil and Water Conservation ‘misappropriated’ Rs 3.59 crore out of the Rs 3.74 crore released for implementation of a flood management programme in Kohima and Phek districts.

The CAG report for the year ending March 31, 2018 informed that the department had, in April 2016, proposed to the Brahmaputra Board, Ministry of Water Resources for sanction of three projects under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) through Integrated Catchment Area Treatment (ICAT). The projects were to cover an area of 7650 hectares in four districts at an estimated cost of Rs 37.13 crore

The projects were approved in May 2016 and the Ministry released the first installment Central share of Rs 12.55 crore in September 2016. The State Government released the amount to the Directorate in November 2016, which was deposited in a current account opened for ICAT at Lerie Branch (Kohima) of State Bank of India.

As per records of the Directorate, Rs 3.74 crore out of Rs 12.55 crore was disbursed to two Divisional Soil Conservation Officers (DSCO) in two installments (January and March 2017) for implementation of the project. 

The Department had also reported in May 2017 the completion of the projects and furnished the utilization certificates to the Ministry.

The CAG on examination of the records of the DSCOs in Kohima and Phek found that the Directorate recorded release of Rs 1.93 crore in April 2017 to the DSCO, Kohima for payment to the beneficiaries for execution of works relating to mitigation of flood and riverbank erosion. 

It was, however, observed that the DSCO, Kohima submitted four representations to the Director stating that only 15 lakh was received by the office and requested for the release of the remaining amount of Rs 1.78 crore which had not been released till March 2018.

To these findings, the government in October 2018 accepted that only Rs 15 lakh was released to DSCO, Kohima in the first phase during 2016-17. The second installment was not released “as the workmanship of the work done was found unsatisfactory and the outstanding amount was kept in abeyance for payment.” It further stated that the project also could not be completed as the State Government had not released its share.

The CAG however refused to accept the reply, stating that the Directorate had made “fictitious entries” in their Cash Book and also furnished “fabricated Actual Payee Receipt (APR)” affixed with revenue stamp in support of payment of Rs 1.93 crore made to the beneficiaries.

It suspected that the amount of Rs 1.78 crore was “misappropriated,” and called for investigation into the matter.

Under the same project, the CAG informed that Rs 1.81 crore was recorded as released in 2017 to the DSCO, Phek. However, the CAG found in August 2018 that the amount was not found recorded in the Cash Book of the DSCO, Phek till March 2017. 

In a reply to a further inquiry made in this regard, the Directorate stated that the fund was released to DSCO, Phek in cash on November 23, 2016 and furnished APR in support of payment of Rs 1.81 crore. 

The CAG however stated that the Directorate’s reply was “factually incorrect as the payments made to the DSCO, Phek were recorded in the Cash Book of the Directorate in the months of January and March 2017.” 

“This indicated that the Directorate did not release the fund of Rs 1.81 crore to DSCO, Phek and the APR furnished in support of making the payment was fabricated,” it said.

In response to these findings, the Department stated in December 2018 that the full amount was released to DSCO, Phek after the monitoring team certified satisfactory completion of the works. 

However, the CAG informed that the certificate of the monitoring team was not furnished.

It observed that the Department’s reply “was not acceptable as there were no records of receipt of Rs 1.81 crore by the DSCO, Phek and also the entries made in the Cash Book of the Directorate and the reply furnished were contradictory.” 

Further, it found that the work was not carried out as the DSCO, Phek had stated in his reply that his office had no information on the implementation of this programme in Phek district.

The CAG therefore concluded that an amount of Rs 3.59 crore was suspected to have been “misappropriated.”

It called for investigation into the matter and urged that the erring officials be held accountable.