Cover Story Jammu & Kashmir The Lead

In absence of driver, cranes worth Rs 1.18 cr remain largely idle since 2008: CAG

Weighbridge testing kits now scrap, led to financial losses

Srinagar, Apr 05: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India revealed that the Legal Metrology Department failed to engage the driver and trained staff for operating mobile cranes fitted with weighbridge testing kits provided by the Government of India (GoI) for an amount of Rs 1.18 crore.

The CAG in its report as per the news agency said that the under-utilisation mobile cranes has defeated the intended purpose to modernise and transform the manual practice of calibration/ verification of weighbridges.

The report said that the GoI under the scheme ‘Strengthening of Weights and Measures Infrastructure provided two mobile cranes fitted with weighbridge testing kits for an amount of  Rs 1.18 crore (December 2008 and March 2012) to the Legal Metrology Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir (GoJ&K).

“The Deputy Controller, Legal Metrology, Jammu projected (March 2009) a minimum revenue of Rs10 lakh per annum by use of these mobile testing kits,” it said.

The CAG said that the Government of J&K fixed (November 2011) 2,000 as user fee for utilisation of mobile kit loaded with testing weights for verification of weigh bridges installed across the state.

It said that the audit scrutiny (June 2018) of records revealed that one mobile crane received in December 2008 could not be put to use till May 2010, on the grounds of non-availability of driver/ operator and required funds for maintenance.

The CAG said that subsequently from May 2010 to November 2010, it was put to use for only seven months by obtaining a driver on deputation from the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC).

“During this period, only 11 weigh bridges were verified,” the report said. “This mobile crane was off road since November 2010 due to non-availability of funds, and was parked in the premises of a private industry at the Industrial Estate, Kathua. The rear tyres of the mobile crane have been stolen (January 2011) for which the First Information Report has been lodged with the police.”

The report said that subsequently, the Joint Controller, Legal Metrology, Jammu requested (August 2012) Director, Legal Metrology, GoI, New Delhi for withdrawal of this vehicle, on the grounds that due to its large size, as it could not be used optimally in the lanes and by-lanes of industrial units of Jammu.

“A second mobile crane was received from GoI in March 2012, and put to use only from February 2015 to June 2018 after making internal arrangements for a driver,” the report said.

It said that this second mobile crane also remained non-functional since July 2018 due to non-availability of a driver.

“On this being pointed out, the Deputy Controller, Legal Metrology Jammu stated (July 2020) that 887 weigh bridges were verified/ re-verified by the Department during 2009-18 for which an amount of Rs 17.74 lakh was recovered,” the CAG said adding that it was also stated that as per log book only 171 weigh bridges were verified/ re-verified by the testing kit provided, and remaining 716 weigh bridges were passed without the utilisation of testing kits.

The CAG said that therefore, the user fee of Rs 3.42 lakh was only recovered by the use of mobile testing kits.

Since the department failed to engage driver/ trained staff to ensure effective usage and maintenance for functioning of these cranes, these mobile cranes provided for Rs 1.18 crore have remained idle, the CAG maintained.

It further said that as stated in their own reply, the Department was able to recover user fee of Rs 17.74 lakh only during 2009-18, which was far less than the estimated collection of user fee of Rs 90 lakh projected (March 2009) by Deputy Controller, Legal Metrology, Jammu by use of mobile testing kits.

Therefore, the Department could not modernise and transform the manual practice of calibration/ verification of weigh bridges due to which the human interface could not be minimised, the report said.

“When the matter was referred (May 2020) to the Department, Deputy Controller, Legal Metrology, Jammu on the directions of Administrative Department framed a comprehensive factual report (July 2020) wherein it was confirmed that the available drivers and staff were not used to make the mobile testing kits operational,” the CAG report stated. 

The report said the kits have now become scrap as they now do not adhere to the new norms for registration of commercial vehicles and the department could not recover the projected revenue (user fee) of Rs 10 lakh annually since its receipt in 2008.

“Controller Legal Metrology Jammu and Kashmir in its reply (August 2020) stated that the vehicle has neither been registered with the Transport department, nor any efforts have been made in this regard so far,” it said.

The report also said that thus, the department failed to engage driver/ trained staff to ensure effective usage and maintenance for functioning of these cranes, whereas these mobile cranes provided for Rs 1.18 crore have remained idle.

“Moreover, the objective to modernise and transform the manual practice of calibration/verification of weigh bridges was not achieved,” the report said—(KNO)

 

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