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Sunday, August 26, 2012

CAG pulls up R&B engineers for bad performance, Govt adorns them with medals

Hundreds of works executed without NITs, AAs; Liabilities worth Rs 110 Crores created; Poor performance on Mughal Road, Narbal-Tangmarg Road; NABARD-funded roads incomplete

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 25: State government’s awards and accolades seem to be continuously jinxed since 2009. Doordarshan’s Deputy Director General, Rafeeq Masoodi, has been placed under suspension by CEO of Prasar Bharti Jawahar Sircar for “poor performance and indulgence in corruption” a year after he was decorated by Governor, N N Vohra, and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, with the prestigious ‘State Award’ for his “impressive performance”. Messers Vohra and Omar, in fact, only executed what had been scripted previously in the DD official’s honour by then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Yes, they conveniently shut their eyes to explicit media reports about the awardee’s omissions and commissions in DD and J&K Cultural Academy for years.

This season last year, Omar Abdullah government showered bountiful praise on then retiring Chief Engineer of R&B, Nazir Ahmad Ladakhi, while granting him a prestigious post-retirement rehabilitation. Ignoring reports that works worth hundreds of Crores of Rupees had been executed during his tenure as SE and CE in R&B Department, State Government appointed Mr Nazir as a Commissioner in J&K State Information Commission.

On Independence Day last fortnight, Government honoured incumbent Chief Engineer of R&B Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, with the more prestigious Chief Minister’s Gold Medal for Honesty/ Integrity & Meritorious Public Service. The list of five top awardees included very honest and gutsy officials like Commissioner-Secretary of Rural Development Department, Farooq Ahmad Pir, who is still famous for kicking out Dr Farooq Abdullah from an officials’ meeting at DC Office Baramulla in 1994 when the NC President had been driven to the meeting by late Rajesh Pilot. Mr Pir was then just a district level officer. Alongwith four others [Umang Narula, Farooq Pir, VC LAWDA Irfan Yasin and Ms Resham Kashyap] CE R&B Kashmir, Mr Lone on the I-Day function became recipient of cash reward of Rs one lakh, Chief Minister’s Gold Medal and a Citation.

Now the anti-climax: CAG Annual Report for 2010-11, that covers the period from 2006 to 2011, snubs R&B’s engineers and bureaucrats for bad performance and a host of other irregularities. Both the decorated engineers have held senior positions of SE and CE during the period in question. Poor IAS officer, K B Agarwal, remains one-odd incumbent who was removed by the government as Commissioner-Secretary R&B---Chief Minister is himself holding portfolio of R&B since August 2010---reportedly for negative reasons.

Amid reports that the Government of India has barred state government from giving approval to the projects pertaining to roads and building infrastructure in J&K, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come up with some startling revelations--- indicting the State government for flouting norms in the R&B sector, causing loss of hundreds of crores to state exchequer besides having failed to implement and execute scores of key developmental projects.

It has also blamed MLAs and Ministers for pressurizing various executing agencies and their heads for diverting funds in order to please “blue eyed contractors” for their own promotion in different constituencies.

CAG report mentions that in violation of all norms and procedures, a whopping liability of Rs 110.82 Cr was raised by executing 1,328 unapproved works mostly for the sweet will and pleasure of Ministers and legislators. The report reveals that 1,301 works have been executed without obtaining any administrative approval which was mandatory for undertaking such works. While asserting that the department had failed to transform developmental schemes into public benefit, CAG report says that unproductive expenditure worth Rs 128.28 Cr has been made till March 2011.

CAG has pulled up the state government for not attaining the targeted physical achievements in respect of roads under the Prime Minster’s Reconstruction Programme (PMRP). It has expressed dissatisfaction over the progress on the ambitious Mughal Road and Narbal-Tangmarg road projects. Although the cost of both the projects has been revised and raised by hundreds of crores over the actual approved cost, yet the projects were still awaiting completion, says the CAG report.

“The targeted date for completion of Mughal Road has been extended upto March 2013 with a revised cost of Rs 255 Cr. Similarly Narbal-Tangmarg Road (NTR) estimated to cost Rs 38 Cr [revised: Rs 116 Cr], although nearing completion, has witnessed a cost overrun of Rs 78 Cr as of March 2011”, reads the CAG report.

The report has also highlighted the ‘inability’ of the government in achieving the targets under NABARD.

“Against 1,196 schemes sanctioned under NABARD (RIDF IV to RIDF XIII) to be completed by 2010-11, only 725 (61 percent) schemes have been completed and the balance of 471 schemes have not been completed due to non-release of matching share by the state government”, it claims.

The report says that works worth Rs 113.57 Cr were executed without inviting tenders, thus defeating the purpose of transparency and tendering in execution.


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