CAG audit reveals serious irregularities in execution of rural projects by PRI bodies

Report by: 
Port Blair
31 Oct 2017

The report submitted to the Union Government in March this year by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has revealed serious irregularities in execution of developmental projects by the three tier Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) comprising of Zilla Parishad, Panchayat  Samitis and Gram Panchayats in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In the report for the year ending 2016, the CAG noted that PRI bodies of these islands deviated from provisions of CPWD relating to award of work, approval of estimates, deviations and tendering, besides deviating from rules and regulations framed by Andaman and Nicobar Administration relating to splitting of work orders. “There were instances of faulty planning, improper site survey, unrealistic assessment of works and lack of monitoring which led to cancellation of works, delays in completion, and time and cost overruns. The irregularities have been referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs in November 2016 and reply is still awaited,” the CAG report says.
The CAG audit covered the construction activities in PRIs for the period 2012-13 to 2014-15 updated till March 2016 during which 1,320 works were undertaken by 14 Gram Panchayats (GP), four Panchayat Samitis (PS) and two Zilla Parishads (ZP). The audit examined 294 works valued at Rs 4,713.18 lakh of which 70 were completed in time, 158 works were completed with delays, 34 works were cancelled/not started, and 32 works were incomplete.
The Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands deviated from provisions of the CPWD Manual and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Panchayats) Regulation 1994 and Rules thereunder. Consequently, there were instances of faulty planning in eight works valued at Rs 161.91 lakh, improper site survey involving expenditure of Rs 86.41 lakh for four works, unrealistic assessment of works in seven cases aggregating to Rs 174.90 lakhs and lack of monitoring deviations in 103 works involving sanctions amounting to Rs 740.25 lakhs which led to cancellation of works, delays in completion, and time and cost overruns, the audit report says.
“The work for ‘Improvement of Water Supply Scheme at Hope Town’ under PS, Ferrargunj was awarded for a tendered value of Rs 28.43 lakhs in June 2005 and stipulated to be completed by May 2006. After commencement of the work and payment of Rs 18.65 lakhs the work was stalled due to non-availability of land, which is violation of provisions contained in the CPWD Manual Consequently, alternative land for balance work was selected and Revised Estimates (RE) prepared (March 2015) at Rs 36.70 lakhs. However, the work could not be completed (June 2016). Department in its reply stated (June 2016) that alternate land has been selected for executing the balance work. The reply is not tenable as it does not address the issue of non-completion of work after an expenditure of Rs 18.65 lakhs and lapse of ten years of its scheduled date of completion,” the CAG report says.
In respect of the project for construction of Bridge at Ward No. 1, Bakultala between Shamkund and Kalsi, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India noted that the North and Middle Andaman Zilla Parishad awarded the work in November 2004 to be completed by 2006. “Against tendered amount of Rs 35.64 lakh, Rs 16.87 lakhs was paid to the contractor (March 2005). The contractor communicated (May 2008/ July 2009/ December 2009) that after the tsunami of December 2004, the width of the nallah had increased and thus it was not possible to fix 20 metre span bridge over the site. The Assistant Engineer (AE), Rangat, also reported (July 2009) that the abutment constructed for the above work had slid from its alignment and fallen and was of no use. However, ZP did not act on the contractor’s letters or the report of the AE, and the contractor completed the steel bridge of 20 metre width by June 2014 and was paid Rs 26.85 lakh up to December 2014. Since the width of the stream is wider than the bridge length, the bridge is not connected to the two banks and cannot be used, resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 26.85 lakh. The Department accepted (September 2016) the facts. Further, in seven cases aggregating to Rs 174.90 lakh, the PRI bodied at the time of preparation of estimates, had not properly assessed items of works to be executed which resulted in subsequent change of scope and design of works leading to unnecessary delay in completion of work/work remaining incomplete,” according to the CAG report.