CAG assesses performance of ministries

The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India had submitted 16 performance reports on various sectors to the Finance Ministry and they were tabled in the Parliament 

 
By Kundan Pandey, Jitendra, Karnika Bahuguna, Jigyasa Watwani, Rashmi Verma
Last Updated: Thursday 10 December 2015 | 11:34:57 AM
Gopal Vijayaraghavan/Flickr
Gopal Vijayaraghavan/Flickr Gopal Vijayaraghavan/Flickr

CAG report reveals gaps in implementation of Tribal Sub Plan

The Tribal Sub Plan was formulated in the 1970s by the Centre to bridge the socio-economic gap between the tribal population and the rest of the country timely
Credit: Find Your Feet/Flickr

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the ministries of human resource development, health and family welfare and AYUSH has found gaps in the implementation of the Tribal Sub Plan’s (TSP) education and health components.

TSP is a planning strategy which incorporates 28 ministries, departments and implementing agencies at the central and state levels.

It was formulated in the 1970s by the Centre to bridge the socio-economic gap between the tribal population and the rest of the country timely.

The CAG report, which focused on the education and health sectors, audited the implementation of the TSP and delivery of schemes and programmes funded through it.

“We noted that the earmarked TSP funds under various schemes and programmes of 28 central ministries and departments were not channelised at the state level for utilisation towards the benefit of tribals,” the report CAG said.

The CAG audit disclosed that the Tribal Affairs Ministry had not been involved in the process of formulation and finalisation of the annual plan which was the groundwork required for successful implementation of the TSP.

The government’s auditor said the planning for various schemes’ implementation under TSP was deficient, considering the plans were formulated without specific consideration of tribal beneficiaries as required.

Monitoring and evaluation of the scheme, both at the central and the state levels, was deficient, it said.

The CAG report noted the absence of need-based planning for tribals, leading to deficient infrastructure and facilities for healthcare and lack of support to Scheduled Tribe students in critical areas in the education sector.

The implementation of the TSP was checked in 18 states and two Union Territories having tribal population and the period of coverage of the performance audit is from April 2011 to March 2014.

Major findings of the audit report

The CAG found that the Departments of School Education and Literacy, Higher Education and Health and Family Welfare had not adopted the specified earmarking norms.

“Release of TSP funds did not synchronise with the allocations made by the departments. T here was short release of TSP funds by Rs 13,138.05 crore during 2011-12 to 2013-14,” the report said.

Citing tribal development strategy and programmes, the CAG report said that the TSP concept was not applicable to the tribal majority states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya where tribals represent more than 60 per cent of the population.

However, it was found in the audit that there were releases of TSP fund amounting to Rs 706.87 crore to tribal-majority states.

While replies from other departments are yet to be received, the Ministry of AYUSH stated that the council was in the process of identifying the units/programme which qualify for release of TSP funds.

The audit also found that Rs 326.21 crore of TSP funds were released to those states and Union Territories where Scheduled Tribe population was absent as per the 2011 census and TSP component was not applicable to them.

The audit added that funds amounting to Rs 433.09 crore in 62 cases were released at the fag-end of the year (March) in contravention to General Financial Rules.

The rule 215 (2) of these rules provides that a mechanism for avoiding release of a large part of funds towards the end of the year should be devised and incorporated in the scheme design itself.

Maintenance of Accounts and utilization of funds

The CAG report said that utilisation certificates from the state governments were received by the ministries for total funds released and not as per the head-wise releases.

“As a result the actual utilisation of funds under TSP remained unascertainable,” it said.

According to the 2010 guidelines by the then Planning Commission, the remaining underutilised funds were to be transferred at the end of a financial year into a non-lapsable pool of TSP funds. This fund is to be allocated to Ministry of Tribal Affairs for implementing schemes for development of STs.

The guideline was not implemented even after four years of issuance, the report said.

The audit also noticed several deficiencies in the financial management of TSP funds in the selected schemes in the states such as non-maintenance of separate account of TSP fund, short/delay in release by the central government/state government, non/under utilisation of TSP fund and so on.

Financial management under the scheme was deficient as many instances of under-utilisation and diversion of TSP funds were noticed, the CAG report said.

Delays in release of funds at various levels—from state governments to nodal agencies/implementing agencies were also observed.

Even though the funds from the central level were released in a trifurcated head i.e. general/Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to the states and from states to the district implementing agencies, the account of expenditure was not maintained separately at any level, the audit found.

“The states/districts furnished consolidated utilisation certificates without indicating component-wise details of the expenditure incurred. As a result, the exact expenditure under TSP remained unascertainable,” it said.

Recommending review of the TSP strategy by the tribal affairs ministry to keep tabs on the reported expenditure and the flow of benefits to the intended population of Scheduled Tribes, CAG suggested operationalisation of accounting arrangements by the ministry to ensure that TSP funds do not get diverted.

According to the CAG, the ministry should ensure the timely release of funds for all components at the central and state levels to facilitate uninterrupted implementation of the schemes covered under TSP.

Implementation of TSP in States

The report said that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had not been involved in the process of finalisation of the annual plan of the central ministries and departments as required under the guidelines.

It also noticed substantial deficiencies in the implementation of a few basic components of five selected schemes under the education and health sectors such as non-distribution of school uniform, non-establishment and non-functioning of model cluster school for girls, lack of basic amenities and facilities, absence of kitchen-cum-store, mismanagement of foodgrains, improper infrastructure, non-establishment of District Institutes of Education and Training and Block Institutes of Teachers’ Education.

Deficiencies in health facilities, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and non-conducting of information, education and communication activities were also observed.

The nodal ministries for education and health sectors failed to monitor the utilisation of funds released under TSP, the CAG read.

In many cases, where nodal departments were constituted, they did not have any role/control over formulation, implementation and monitoring programme of the TSP.

The CAG recommended the Tribal Affairs Ministry to issue appropriate instructions for maintenance of separate account, preparation and submission of separate utilisation certificates of TSP fund by states.

“Planning process needs to be strengthened with community involvement, especially in the tribal-dominant blocks, to ensure the benefit for tribal communities under the respective schemes,” CAG recommended.

Monitoring and evaluation

Calling the monitoring of the scheme at the central level unsatisfactory, CAG recommended the state governments should be asked to form a structure at the state level/district level to monitor and review the implementation and monitoring of the TSP fund.

“Despite PMO’s (Prime Minister’s Office) direction, dedicated TSP unit which was set up earlier in November 2005 was not functioning in the Planning Commission. Out of the 28 identified Ministries/Departments, only two departments furnished quarterly progress reports,” it said.

The auditor said there was a need to strengthen the nodal unit at the state/district level to assess the infrastructure gap and development needs in the tribal areas and converge the funding available under schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and so on.

Dedicated nodal units for formulation, implementation and monitoring of TSP components under each ministry/department should be made functional and oversight role of Ministry of Tribal Affairs should be strengthened in the overall monitoring framework of TSP, according to CAG recommendations.

It further suggested evaluation studies to assess the impact of TSP on socio economic development of STs to be conducted and findings of such studies should be used as input for planning process.

T he draft report of the CAG w as issued to the Ministry of HRD , Ministry of H&F W, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of AYUSH on 27 April 2015 for seeking response to the audit findings.

Except Ministry of AYUSH, replies from the other ministries are still awaited, CAG said.

Irregularities worth Rs 10,000 crore in paddy procurement

A paddy field (Photo: Vikas Choudhary)

The CAG report, tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday, states that there are huge unchecked irregularities in procurement of paddy by private rice millers.

The audit report raised a doubt that farmers are not getting minimum support price (MSP) for its paddy procured by private mills. Furthermore, there is no assurance about how many farmers are getting MSP out of it. It is worth noting that between 2009 and 2013-14, the Government had given Rs18,000 crore as MSP to farmers (through private mills).

The audit body recommended for direct transfer of MSP to farmers’ accounts.

In order to meet objectives of food grains’ procurement policy, the Government procures large quantities of paddy every year through Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies (SGAs). Instead of procuring paddy directly from the farmers and getting it custom milled or processed in the mill, a substantial quantity of rice is procured through rice millers in the form of levy. For this, millers procure paddy directly from farmers and convert it into rice and deliver the same to FCI and SGAs.

The report has pointed out that FCI didn’t verify the claims made by private millers about mandi or farm as the point of procurement of paddy from farmers.  As a result, payment of transportation expenses has cost FCI up to Rs 194 crore in Bihar, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. It has been observed that usually private mills procure from mandis or ask farmers to come to the mills to sell their produce. The millers thus end up saving the cost and yet claiming it from the government.

The cost of irregularities

The audit body pointed out irregularities of Rs 9,788 crore through procurement of 8.2 million tonnes of substandard quality of paddy in Punjab between 2010-11 and 2013-14 together. In Punjab, the millers whose mills were located within a distance of eight kilometres from a farmer’s field were not eligible for transportation charges. But the government procurement agency also paid up to Rs 163.7 crore transportation charges to these millers.

The audit report also flagged off some doubtful means of transportation of huge quantity of customed mill rice in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, costing up to Rs 6.58 crore.

Large quantities of paddy or custom milled rice, ranging from 14 quintals to 1,800 quintals, were transported through doubtful means of transport such as motorcycle, auto rickshaw, jeep, taxi, thela or car, instead of trucks or tractors. The audit body also recommended augmentation of manpower of procurement agencies like FCI/SGA for quality checks and the need to redress weaknesses in monitoring through an internal control system for procurement of paddy, milling and delivery operations.

CAG on energy: states are not taking renewable purchase ‘seriously’

The CAG report published on Tuesday states that a majority of states have not yet fixed the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), in sync with the norms set under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). Power distribution companies and other licencees are expected to purchase a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources, as mandated by the Central or state electricity regulatory commissions.

The auditing agency looked at 24 states to make an assessment of the renewable energy sector in India for the period 2007-14. Only two states—Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu—were found taking efforts according to national standards stipulated under the NAPCC.

As a result, the country has barely managed to achieve 50 per cent of NAPCC targets. These targets were 8 per cent and 9 per cent for the years 2013 and 2014 respectively. But the achievement rates were only 4.28 per cent and 4.51 per cent respectively. Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Mizoram and Tamil Nadu were the states which achieved their targets.

The NAPCC, announced in June 2008, set a target of 5 per cent for the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources for 2009-10 against the then level of around 3.5 per cent. This target was to increase by one per cent per year for the following 10 years. In this way, NAPCC envisaged that renewable energy would constitute 15 per cent of the energy mix of India by 2020.

The CAG also pointed out a flaw in the whole module. The report said, “Uncertain policy environment and poor RPO enforcement led to a situation where, as of August 2014, 93,64,699 RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates), each valuing at least Rs 1,500 were lying unredeemed, affecting the planned cash flow of the generators.”

Policymakers will have to give the issue some serious thought if are to achieve the target by 2020. The report recommends that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) must pursue state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs) for the adoption of RPO targets. These targets should be enforced with due monitoring and collection of penalties for default in compliance. MNRE, being the nodal ministry, should ensure that there are clear guidelines on the life of RECs and the management of unredeemed certificates in a time-bound manner. The report says MNRE should introduce a comprehensive framework for creating awareness about the Clean Development Mechanism, defined under the Kyoto Protocol, and its benefits.

CAG slams science and environment ministries for inefficient project management

PSLV C27 launch, Sriharikota, March 28, 2015 Credit: Arun Katiyar, Flickr

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the scientific and environmental ministries/departments of the Government of India for inefficient project management, weaknesses in procurement and contract management and irregular benefits to employees in its audit report tabled in Parliament on December 8.

Cases of inefficient project management include implementation of the Drugs and Pharmaceutical Research Programme (DPRP), the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI), e-waste rules of the Central Pollution Control Board and installation and upkeep of the Met observatories by the Regional Meteorological Centre in Kolkata.

The CAG has pointed out deficiencies in selection, financial management and monitoring of projects under the DPRP in its audit report for the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The outcomes of none of the 19 projects sanctioned under the DPRP were known to the DST as final project completion reports were not received. Four of the 19 were terminated midway. Of the remaining 15, loans and interests amounting to Rs 73.68 crore were not received. This included Rs 63.34 crore due from industrial partners of nine projects and Rs 10.34 crore from industrial partners of 12 projects. Moreover, due financial diligence in selection of projects was not done by the DST as loans were released to financially unsound companies which later defaulted in repayment.

Similarly, of 30 projects under NMITLI, implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), only four were commercialised. Nine industrial partners of the project defaulted in payment.

For implementation of e-waste rules, the CPCB did not conduct assessment of the quantity of e-waste being generated/processed. The scheme for setting up demonstration projects for treatment of sewage at four locations has not been started even after four years of sanction and after incurring an expenditure of Rs 8.22 crore.

Maintenance of observatories set up by Regional Meteorological Centre, Kolkata for collection of various types of meteorological data was inadequate. This, together with shortage of manpower, resulted in observatories lying defunct, shortfalls in carrying out prescribed inspections of observatories, non-rectification of defective instruments, inadequate geographical coverage of areas under the Centre and gaps in collection of meteorological data. The content managed website developed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences at a cost of Rs 2.27 crore remained non-functional since February 2012, resulting in unfruitful expenditure.

The weakness in procurement and contract management can be displayed by how the DST delayed executing lease deed with respect to land acquired from New Okhla Industrial Development Authority for 21 years and failed to complete construction of its office complex, incurring expenditure to the tune of Rs 1.81 crore.

Irregular benefits to employees can be demonstrated by how four labs of the CSIR promoted 256 scientists, resulting in irregular benefits of Rs 4.81 crore. The Department of Space (DoS) also implemented the Performance Related Incentive Scheme for all its employees and continued to grant other special allowances to its employees.

Dismal state of India’s sanitation programmes

The Comptroller and Auditor General tabled a report on Total Sanitation Campaign, later renamed Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, in the Parliament on December 8. The report says that the mission has completely failed. For the audit, 25 per cent of districts from every state or union territory were selected.

The report stated that from 2009-10 to 2013-14, against the objective of achieving 426.32 lakh laterines for below poverty line and and 469.76 lakh for above poverty line, only 222.32 lakh (52.15 per cent) and 207.55 lakh (44.18 per cent) were constructed. The target for constructing toilets in schools was 927,542. However, but only 486,678 (52.47 per cent) were constructed.

 

For Community Sanitary Complex (CSC), the target was 42,476; but total construction was 11,679 (27.5 per cent) between 2009-10 and 2013-14. There was a massive decline in the number of proposed targets.

Among several reasons accounted for the shortfall in achieving the set targets, discrepancy in the release of funds by the government has been listed as prime. Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation released only 48 per cent of the funds demanded by the states. Moreover, about 16 states either did not release or short-released their share of funds between 2009 and 2014. Therefore, of the total funds available for the scheme during this period were only Rs 13,495 crore. Of this, only Rs 10,158 crore was spent, resulting in unutilised amount of Rs 3337 crore (24.73 per cent of the total funds available). Also, defunct toilets were found to be more than 33 per cent in 53 districts in eight states (Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu).

Other reasons behind unfulfilled target include receipt of funds at the far end of the financial year, time consumed in physical verification of targets, lack of demand from the blocks  or gram panchayats, time taken in finalising the list of beneficiaries at block or district levels, non?construction of targeted sanitation infrastructure, short expenditure on information, among others.

Besides, integration of information, education and communication (IEC) is the key player in bringing behaviour change on safe sanitation, demand generation, usage, links to health and hygiene and sustainability. But it has been pointed out that due attention was not given to this aspect and the activities under IEC were used as an administrative exercise. Also, funds meant for creating awareness through IEC activities were diverted for other purposes. Despite an expenditure of Rs. 788.60 crore during last five years (2009-2014), the ministry failed to evaluate its IEC campaign.

The audit also noted that there was no convergence between various schemes and programmes between 2009-10 and 2011-12. However, in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) scheme had some convergence with Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGS). But due to the inefficacy of desired results from convergence, it was discontinued in recent Swachh Bharat Mission.

The audit lined out that defective planning (lack of bottom up approach in the planning stage), unrealistic targets (targets fixed without considering the available funds and execution power), inefficient construction of toilets and infrastructure (poor quality of construction were a few more reasons for dismal performance of the ministry. The report further states that weak monitoring and evaluation mechanism serve as a lacunae that need to be fixed before considering any further development in the state of sanitation in India.

Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) or the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) programme that have been running in mission mode for nearly three decades have, therefore, not succeeded in evoking the required missionary zeal in various government agencies, participating NGOs and corporates. Though the Swachh Bharat has kept the provisions for participation of corporate houses, the government has failed to rope in the corporate at a large scale. The mission that has kept 2019 as a target date to clean India is focusing only on building toilets and ignoring solid-liquid waste management. Amid all these challenges, it looks difficult that the government will achieve the target.

 

 

 

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