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PR Dept. loses Central assistance

By T.S.Ranganna

BANGALORE, NOV. 16. The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department incurred a loss of Central assistance to the tune of Rs. 20.27 crore due to its failure to achieve 75 per cent ``financial progress'' in the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana over seven years from 1992-93.

A mention about the trend in the department was made in the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for 1993- 94. The Public Accounts Committee, in its 34th report, recommended that effective steps be taken to achieve the financial progress specified, by timely preparation of plans and release of funds.

However, the CAG expressed unhappiness over the department's failure to achieve financial progress. A scrutiny revealed that the delay in release of funds, excess carry over, excess expenditure on administration, and shortfall in coverage of Scheduled Caste beneficiaries, continued to persist. Consequently, the Union Government reduced its assistance to the extent of Rs. 20.27 crore -- Rs. 16.39 crore for shortfall in financial progress; Rs. 2.48 crore for reduction of expenditure in coverage of SC/ST beneficiaries; and Rs. 1.40 crore for excess expenditure on administration.

The State Government, the CAG said, had not fixed responsibility for the loss of assistance from the Union Government and the failure to achieve the financial progress specified. Scrutiny of progress reports indicated that the percentage of expenditure was between 49 and 72 in 10 districts during the period.

Misappropriation: In Bangalore Rural, Dharwad, Raichur and Tumkur districts, 16 cases of misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs. 78.62 lakh in the implementation of programmes between 1989- 90 and 1998-99 were reported to the zilla panchayats and the Government. The departmental inquiries are pending at various stages.

The report said that scrutiny revealed that departmental inquiries were instituted after a delay of 12 to 48 months in seven cases (Rs. 17.38 lakh). In one case involving misappropriation of Rs. 6 lakh, an inquiry had not been ordered even 16 months after the detection of the case. Funds were misappropriated because of non-maintenance of cashbooks, vouchers, and other records by the secretaries of gram panchayats.

In disregard of the norms of depositing funds in savings account and utilising the interest, four project-implementing officers placed funds in current account for different periods during 1992-99, resulting in loss of interest of Rs. 15 lakh. The CAG said that the matter called for investigation. Although funds were kept in savings bank account by seven project-implementing officers, interest of Rs. 3 lakh was not allowed by the bank concerned. The officers said that action would be taken to obtain the interest.

Non-utilisation of funds: As the second stream of the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana was merged with the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) in January 1996, funds which remained unutilised were to be transferred to the EAS. However, Rs. 1.95 crore was not transferred to the EAS, and was not utilised.

Out of Rs. 28.65 lakh drawn from the Treasury in March 1993, which was retained in the Bangalore Rural Zilla Panchayat deposit account in the Treasury, Rs. 9.36 lakh was withdrawn and spent during 1997-98. The balance of Rs. 19.29 lakh remained unutilised for six years, the CAG said.

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