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Friday, March 11, 2016

Loot of exchequer by R&B Xens in Governor’s rule unabated

Official vehicles dumped, private vehicles hired at Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per month

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, March 10: Executive Engineers (EEs) of different departments, particularly those of R&B Department, are looting the State exchequer with impunity even in Governor’s rule without any fear of accountability as most of them have dumped their official vehicles and engaged private vehicles and drivers for Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 a month. STATE TIMES discovered during an investigation that the vehicles engaged without any justification by the EEs actually belong either to their own families, friends or relatives.

During a survey, this newspaper observed that in Kashmir valley 25 EEs, particularly those on deputation with Tourism Development Authorities and other departments, had dumped the official drivers and were themselves driving the same for official and private purposes. “They draw inflated bills on account of fuel and earn an average of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 a month out of it. They are not content with the embezzlements done in regular bills of works which run into crores”, said an insider on the condition of anonymity. He said "just some exceptions" do not indulge in this kind of brazen loot of exchequer.

When this newspaper brought it to the notice of Commissioner-Secretary R&B, Rohit Kansal last month, he immediately ordered an enquiry. Within a few days, many of the EEs returned the official vehicles to the regular drivers. SE R&B Pulwama and SE R&B Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Najar, who had engaged private Scorpio JK01N-5151, also disengaged the vehicles.

However, STATE TIMES proceeded with the investigation while making Baramulla and Kupwara as the sample districts. It observed that almost all the EEs have dumped their official vehicles, including brand new and operational vehicles, either in their own offices or those of Superintending Engineers or Chief Engineer. They have hired their own or their relatives’ or friends’ private vehicles and have been paying them average of Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 a month without any justification from the State exchequer. At an average each division has spent Rs 6 lakh a year on account of illegal and unauthorised payments made to such vehicles.

It is suspected that the money drawn from State exchequer is shared between the EEs and owners of the private vehicles. A percentage of the billed amount goes to the Accounts Officers and other officials. There is a huge mismatch between the entries made in the log books and the actual official travelling. Some of the EEs claim to have travelled 100 to 200 Km every day.

It was observed that Shah Jehan, EE R&B Division Kupwara has dumped his official vehicle and driver and hired private Scorpio, JK05D-6955, which belongs to one of his acquaintances.

EE of R&B Division Handwara, Abdul Aziz, has dumped his official vehicle and hired private Zylo, JK13B-8590, which is being operated by a private driver.

EE of R&B Division Uri, Ajit Singh, has dumped his official vehicle and driver and engaged private Scorpio, JK05D-4330, which is being operated by a private driver.

EE of R&B Division Baramulla, Shabir Ahmad, has dumped his official vehicle and driver and hired private Scorpio, JK01R-2591, which is being operated by a private driver. Previously, for several months, this EE had similarly hired another private vehicle bearing number 8181. It ferried him between his home in Pulwama and office in Baramulla.

EE of R&B Division Sopore, Gurdeep Singh, has dumped his official vehicle and driver and hired private Scorpio, JK05D-3822, which is being operated by a private driver as a routine between the Divisional Office in Sopore, SE’s office in Baramulla, CE’s office in Srinagar and EE’s home in Chogal, Handwara.

It was observed that some EEs have been drawing Rs 1200 a day for the private driver plus Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 as cost of fuel.

Commissioner-Secretary R&B, Rohit Kansal, told STATE TIMES that he has ordered separate enquiries, one being headed by CE R&B Kashmir and another by DC Baramulla, Yasha Mudgal. “I am expecting their detailed reports within a few days. We will initiate appropriate action under rules against the officers who will be found indulging in this kind of unauthorised expenditure”, Mr Kansal said.

Officials in Finance Department said that a private vehicle can be hired by a competent government officer for maximum of two or three days a month if such an exigency occurred for discharge of duty. “Hiring private vehicles and dumping the official vehicles and drives for the purpose of looting the State exchequer is completely illegal. It warrants stringent action including recovery of the money paid from the account of the Drawing and Disbursing Officer”, said a senior official.


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