By Our Reporter
SHILLONG, Sep 25: The Power department is likely to convene a meeting to study a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which pointed out glaring irregularities in the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme.
The irregularities are about giving undue financial benefit to contractors and wasteful expenditures worth multi-crore rupees.
It was learnt most of the top officers of the Power department are out of station and hence, the meeting will be called next week.
Highly-placed sources in the department ruled out any fresh inquiry into the alleged “scam”, stating that an inquiry into everything was conducted a few years ago.
It is clearly visible that the recent report of the CAG has not caused any stirring within the machinery of the state.
In fact, if one flips the pages of history pertaining to the several past years, few of the departments have even refused to provide information about what actions have been taken after the irregularities were pointed out in the CAG reports.
The report has told the government to address the problem of inaction by some of the departments.
Over a period of more than three decades, various departments are yet to reply to more than 3,600 paragraphs, according to the CAG report.
It said that “3,639 paragraphs relating to the period from 1988-89 to March 2022 were outstanding.”
Of the total 3,639 outstanding paragraphs pertaining to 700 Inspection Reports (IRs), the CAG is yet to get even the first reply against 792 paragraphs pertaining to 116 IRs from the audited departments.
“Lack of action on IRs and audit paragraphs for long periods is fraught with the risk of perpetuating financial and compliance irregularities pointed out in those reports. It may also result in dilution of internal controls in the governance process as the irregularities pointed out in audit are not acted upon by those in charge of the governance process,” the CAG report on Social and Economic Sectors for the year ended March 31, 2022, stated.
This results in inefficient and ineffective delivery of public goods and services, fraud, corruption and loss to the public exchequer, the CAG emphasised, adding that the state government needs to institute an effective mechanism to review and take expeditious action to address the concerns flagged in the IRs and audit paragraphs.
“To ensure accountability of the Executive to the issues contained in these Audit Reports, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly issued instructions (July 1993) for submission of suo motu explanatory notes by the concerned Administrative Departments within one month of presentation of the Audit Reports in the State Legislature. For this, the departments are not required to wait for any notice from PAC. Suo motu Explanatory Notes are yet to be received from 16 departments in respect of nine PA reports and 32 draft paragraphs which featured in the Audit Reports for the years 2010-11 to 2019-20 as on 31 December 2022,” the report stated.
It may be recalled that the CAG report had pointed out that despite an advisory from the Cabinet secretary, the MePDCL took an injudicious decision for awarding works under the Saubhagya scheme to contractors at their quoted rates resulting in avoidable expenditure of Rs 156 crore.
The report also pointed out undue financial benefit given to contractors under Saubhagya and DDUGJY to the tune of Rs 1.96 crore.
Opposition leader Ronnie V Lyngdoh said as the CAG report has been tabled, it is now the duty of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to summon the departments concerned to seek an explanation and initiate action.
The pressure groups refused to comment on the matter, saying that they will first study the CAG report.