Govt gives ADCs a long leash
CM, DCA minister silent over CAG, DLFA red flags; KHADC, JHADC told to uproot illegal toll gates
SHILLONG, June 23: The state government’s sympathetic attitude towards the corruption-riddled autonomous district councils became evident yet again on Thursday when it invited the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council for discussions but conveniently skipped the burning issue of corruption in the ADCs.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and District Council Affairs Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, who invited the heads of the two ADCs for the meeting, avoided discussing the charges of corruption against them and the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Directorate of Local Fund Audit (DLFA).
When prodded, Rymbui said the CM had convened the meeting with the members of the KHADC and JHADC to specifically discuss the illegal toll gates. He denied that the government was going soft on the ADCs.
“We have to follow the law of the land. If provisions of the law allow them to exercise their duty judiciously before submitting the reports, then there’s no issue,” he said.
He chose not to comment on the ADCs not responding to the government’s letter seeking clarification on the queries made by the DLFA regarding their accounts of expenditure.
The CAG had written to Governor Satya Pal Malik regarding the non-maintenance of accounts by the ADCs for several years and advised him to instruct the CM to act against the councils. The governor had a telephonic conversation with the CM besides dispatching a formal letter seeking timely and correct preparations of accounts of the ADCs.
But the state government appears to be giving a long rope to the “go-slow” ADCs.
The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) subsequently attacked the ruling coalition for allowing the three ADCs to misappropriate the funds of central schemes and not maintain their accounts of expenditure.
The AITC asked the state government to stop the flow of funds to the ADCs if they fail to abide by the constitutional obligations.
The ADCs have reportedly been getting away with misdeeds in the absence of monitoring by the state government, specifically the District Council Affairs Department. The state government, in its defence, said it had ordered the audit of the JHADC and Garo Hills Autonomous District Council accounts for the last 10 years by the DLFA.
The DLFA detected several anomalies in the implementation of the special assistance grant from the Centre by the GHADC and JHADC. The report was submitted to the District Council Affairs Department.
The department had written to both the councils in February seeking their response to the DLFA findings. “They are yet to respond,” a senior government official told The Shillong Times.
Rymbui said the state government asked the JHADC and the KHADC to immediately close down all the illegal toll gates within their jurisdiction on the National Highway, state highways and state roads, failing which immediate action will be initiated by the district administration.
Rymbui said a proposal was also made to conduct checks to ensure such toll gates are stopped, adding that the JHADC and KHADC agreed to comply with the government’s directive after they were told they have no authority over the national highways, state highways and state roads within their territory.
He could not quantify the illegal gates but said there are many such check gates of the Himas and the Syiems.