Srinagar, Apr 05: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report revealed that the Irrigation and Flood Control Department took up the execution of work on water storage tanks without acquiring the private land and seeking prior clearance from Forest Department/ Defence Authority resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 3.67 crore in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
The information was revealed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India stating that the I&FC Department took up the execution of work on water storage tanks without acquiring the private land and seeking prior clearance from the Forest Department and Defence authority in border district Kupwara.
According to the report a copy of which lies with news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the CAG said that in order to provide irrigational facilities to farmers for agricultural activities in Tehsil Handwara and Kupwara, the Executive Engineer (EE), Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) Division, Handwara, proposed three projects involving construction of 27 storage tanks in Brinyal Rajwad, Natnussa Kandi and Rajwad at an estimated cost of Rs 26.42 crore, under Border Area Development Programme (BADP) in the year 2013.
“The stipulated period for completion of works was two years from the date of sanction of the project,” CAG said.
The CAG said that an amount of Rs 9.90 crore was released during the period from 2013 to 2019 and the division had incurred an expenditure of Rs 6.43 crore as of March 2019.
The report said that the scrutiny of records (October 2017) revealed that despite availability of Rs 9.90 crore, an amount of Rs 3.47 crore (35 percent of the total allotment) could not be utilised.
“Further, out of the 27 storage tanks, only one storage tank was completed,” the CAG report maintained.
The report said that of 16 storage tanks that were proposed to be constructed requiring a total of 41.05 hectare of private/ forest land, nine storage tanks were taken up for construction without clearance being obtained from the Forest Department or private land being acquired (July 2019) for executing these works.
“An expenditure of Rs 3.37 crore was incurred during the period 2013 to 2019 on these nine storage tanks,” it said.
The CAG report said that as regards the nine storage tanks (estimated cost: 11.49 crore) involving use of 35.15 hectare of private/ forest land an expenditure of Rs 3.37 crores was incurred on storage tanks which were not complete and only two storage tanks were semi-functional.
The report said that similarly, in case of the 11 storage tanks (estimated cost: 7.80 crore) which did not require any private/ forest land, an expenditure of Rs 3.06 crore was incurred (2013 to 2019) on execution of work of ten storage tanks (one storage tank was not taken up for construction due to land dispute).
It said that only one storage tank out of these ten storage tanks was fully functional and six were semi-functional.
“Besides, the three remaining storage tanks were not even partially functional despite expenditure of Rs 63.19 lakh being incurred on these tanks,” the report said.
“Out of these three storage tanks, two were abandoned after incurring an expenditure of Rs 43.59 lakh,” the report said.
“As the land identified for the Gunsnar storage tank was close to an army ammunition depot for which clearance from Army was not granted (July 2020) and the alternate site selected for this storage tank Kinjaldoori Nichama failed in soil testing, rendering an expenditure of Rs 43.59 lakh wasted,” it said.
“On this being pointed out in the audit, EE, I & FC Division, Handwara stated (July 2019) that due to paucity and delay in release of funds, indents with the Forest Department could not be processed and private land also could not be acquired,” the CAG report pointed.
The CAG maintained that the reply is not tenable as the Department had not initiated any action for land acquisition as seen from the DPRs except for one work, the land required for the other works had not been acquired (July 2020). Besides, the division was not able to utilise the funds allotted during the period 2013 to 2019 and there were savings of Rs 3.47 crore (35 per cent) which lapsed.
Thus, improper planning for taking up the construction of storage tanks without acquiring the private land, seeking prior clearance from the Forest Department/ Defence Authority despite the availability of funds resulted in wasteful expenditure of Ra 3.67 crores, the CAG report said.
It said that the matter was referred to the Department/ Government in May 2020; their replies were awaited (September 2020).
“The department should take up execution of hindrance free projects on priority so that the projects undertaken are completed expeditiously,” CAG recommended in the report.