Let CAG reports be an eye opener

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The report of its audit findings of various public sector undertakings during 2017-18 has been released by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has feared very badly. Be it Power Development Departmen, Health, implementation of MGNREGA, JK Project Construction Corporation, projects under NRDWP, PMGSY, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department – the CAG findings indicate that there have been more failures than any success stories. It is shocking to note that one of the vital sectors – health – is being run so poorly. The CAG report for the year ended March 31, 2018, said the audit on procurement of medicine and equipment by the JKMSC revealed delays in finalisation of rate contracts and consequent delay or non-procurement of drugs, instruments, machinery and equipment, thereby defeating the purpose of creation of the company. More shockingly, the report points out the  non-operationalisation of 102 Ambulance Service over a period of more than three years despite receiving the fund of Rs 3.18 crore and non-observance of prescribed procedure for empanelment of testing laboratories leading to extra-expenditure of Rs 9.47 lakh. The report indicates discrepancies in all above mentioned sectors. For instance, the report suggests that the target for completion of 1,067 Water Supply Schemes (WSSs) during 2013-18, only 679 schemes (64 percent) have been completed under the NRDWP. So non-completion of 388 (36 percent) schemes has impacted the process of providing potable drinking water to population of 5.67 lakh.

The CAG report vindicates peoples’ oft repeated concerns regarding functioning of various government departments in Jammu and Kashmir. Funds are not utilized properly and time-lines in completion of projects are not followed thus allowing the expenditure rates to swell up. Kashmir division has limited working season as during winters work on all the projects comes to halt. Still, it has been noted year after year, the concerned authorities delay the execution of works – be it repairs of roads, macdamization of roads, laying down of power transmission lines or some other constructions are started late September or in October thus having just two to two and a half months to complete the work. Result – the work is never completed and the funds, in some cases, get lapsed. The Lt. Governor administration should take a cue from the CAG reports and thus pull up all the concerned agencies. The administration needs to take steps to ensure a healthy and people friendly work culture in the Union Territory of J&K. Recently the PDD has decided to replace all wooden transmission polls. It is a very good decision but the decision makers should understand that there are hundreds of villages where even wooden polls are not available and transmission lines are hanging over the branches of random trees. Winter is approaching and therefore the Lt Governor administration should gear up the PDD authorities to replace these polls before snowfall.

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