Fund embezzlement slur on PWD

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IMPHAL, July 14: In yet another revelation of fund anomaly in a major State Government department, the Public Works Department (PWD) of Government of Manipur is now charged for approving three major road construction works at an estimated cost of a whopping Rs 9.06 crores without the approval of a competent authority of the concerned department.

According to reports, out of the total cost of Rs 9.06 crores for the three assigned works, it also came to light that an amount of Rs 864.90 lakhs have been already sanctioned to the entrusted contractors for the said works.

The whole matter came to light following the crystal clear report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which was tabled on the last day, July 4 sitting of Manipur Legislative Assembly.

The CAG report is for the period till March 31, 2012.

As per the report, road construction works which were taken up without the approval of the concerned competent authority are construction of approach road to solid waste plant at Lamdeng (Tender amount/Project cost – Rs 420 lakhs), maintenance of Wangjing Khangabok Road (SH: widening, WBM and premix carpeting 0-3.80km, Tender amount/Project cost Rs 195.41 lakhs) and construction of Churachandpur Sugunu Road (5-26km, Tender amount/Project cost Rs 290.12 lakhs).

The report further stated that as per Rule No.22 of the Central Finance Rule, 2005, no authority may incur any expenditure or enter into any liability involving expenditure unless the same has been sanctioned by competent authority.Further, non-plan funds meant for minor works and upkeep and maintenance of assets created earlier cannot be utilised for incurring expenditure for new asset creation and for capital incentive works.

It went on to say that the State’s delegation of Financial Power Rules, 1995 (amended in August 2003) provides a set of rules, stipulating the authorities authorised to approve expenditure depending upon the quantum of expenditure. In respect of investment proposal above Rs 1 crore, approval of the Public Investment Board (PIB) shall be recorded in the relevant files of the Adminstrative Departments.

It said to check (November 2011-August 2012) of the records of three divisional offices i.e Imphal West Division, Thoubal Division and Churachandpur Division, the Public Work Engineering Deparment revealed that three major road construction works, each costing above Rs 1 crore, were taken up during January 2009 and September 2011. The three works were to be constructed at total cost of Rs 9.06 crores. The expenditure was made from the fund provided for maintenance and repairs and did not relate to any central or State scheme funds.

Further scrutiny revealed that the works were executed based on administrative approval accorded by the Adminstrative Department for debiting the expenditure under Major Head (MH)-3054 Roads and bridges (Non-Plan). The works were also classified as minor works and executed without obtaining the expenditure sanction of the competent authority.

There was also no record to show that adequate fund for the work was provided in the budget under the proper head of accounts.

Thus, the Department incurred an expenditure of Rs 9.06 crores on construction of three roads without approval of competent authority and classified it as non-plan revenue expenditure under MH-3054 roads and bridges, which was irregular.

In their reply, the Department on February 2013 had stated that the works were taken up as per the decision of Programme Advisory Committee and approved by the Administrative Department. Moreover, seperate expenditure sanction was not given as Adminstrative Department had given expenditure concurrence as per budget provision.

The reply was not deemed acceptable as the Programme Advisory Committee is not competent to order approval for incurring expenditure and provision of fund in budget by itself cannot be constructed as suo-moto approval of expenditure sanction.

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