KAAC Administration Cut Short: Misappropriation Of Project Funds

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Diphu June 23: Fallout from the virtual policy paralysis in the administration of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council has caused a drop in almost all of the organization’s administrative and financial functions. The administrative machinery has practically ground to a halt in the absence of a competent Principal Secretary to run KAAC affairs.

Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council is the oldest Autonomous Council in the nation, constituted under the Sixth Schedule of India’s Constitution.

Movement of File relating to financial and administrative decision has cut short the KAAC secretariat after the alleged removal of the serving Principal Secretary Moloy Bora from his post without authorization. According to information received, the senior ACS officer was let go from his duties through a release letter signed by the Principal Secretary in charge of KAAC even before Mr. Bora handed over charge or relinquished his duty.

The release letter was issued on the approval of KAAC CEM by Deputy Secretary Monoranjan Gogoi who neither assumed charge of the Principal Secretary nor holds the charge of KAAC Personnel department.

The separated senior bureaucrat has since filed a case in Guwahati High Court seeking justice. Anticipating legal interference, no other junior officers have dared to show any intent to serve in the post.

It is learned that the tussle between Principal Secretary Moloy Bora and Chief Executive Member Tuliram Ronghang, centred on the release of funds to the Irrigation department, particularly against the head of account 4702 AIBP central scheme flouting all government protocols.

Apparently, the Executive Member in charge of Irrigation issued a verbal instruction to the concerned deputy secretary of KAAC to release more than 100 crores rupees to Executive Engineer zone-4 Karbi Anglong vide his letter no KAAC/P&D-129/FS/AIBP/Irri?2014-15/21 dated 21/03/2015 without official approval of the Principal Secretary.

The financial sanction was accorded for payment of some specific bills of Irrigation department’s central government subsidized AIBP schemes. Allegedly the PS objected to the release of funds suspecting massive foul play in implementing schemes which were not only deficient but in major breach of norms involved in the allotment process of the schemes.

irrigation project
Photo of the so called irrigation project

When the illegal action of the Deputy Secretary came to the knowledge of the Principal Secretary, he immediately communicated with the Executive Engineer zone-4 Karbi Anglong stating that the Deputy Secretary is not the competent authority to release Central funds for his letter no KAAC/G-Estt/OS/19/Pt/95-2011/1424(A) dated 08/09/2014. More bizarrely after rigid stand of the PS the KAAC Executive Committee made it a custom to release its funds to various departments and sign the utilization certificates of the used up funds under its control through the Deputy Secretaries through infringement of financial rules.

It is yet not clear why the Deputy Secretary in question, knowing the limitations of his official power indulged in this unlawful practice.

Allegedly 90% major works by the Irrigation department are being settled without inviting tenders according to standard policy. Tenders worth multimillion rupees are advertised in local newspapers whose jurisdiction of circulation is limited within certain areas of the district, circumspectly avoiding national newspapers and official websites.

It is also alleged that over the last 15 years, central government sponsored funds to the tune of Rs.500/- crore in averages for implementation of irrigation schemes in this district has been exhausted against extremely over approximated plans and estimates.

“Hundreds of instances are there where works valued more then 5 to 10 crore rupees have been settled with the privileged contractors related with the Executive Members and Chief Executive Member of the KAAC without inviting national bid, crores of rupees fund specifically released from the center against particular scheme and the contractor has been diverted breaching all norms of government. Many contractors have not received payment after completion of work whereas, total payment worth more than 8 crores rupees has been drown just by completing 10% work, a beginning to end joint survey is necessary by both technical experts and financial authority to probe various charges against functioning of this department” Mohon Rongpi, prominent RTI activist of Diphu said.

“I like to mention here that an irrigation project funded from Non Lapsable Central Pull of Resource worth Rs. 8 crore, 71 lakhs and 65 thousands was executed at Kako Basti, just 7 kilometres from Diphu town under Sub divisional Officer Bolin Das who was also the Section Officer of the project, one aggrieved party dissatisfied with the job filed a case in Diphu police station( case no PSC/154/13, US 409/420 IPC) alleging that the entire amount has been drown just completing 10% work, the entire case procedure is still pending with the authority; based on police requirement an inquiry was initiated by another line department but that too is rotting in cold file “ Mohon Rongpi stated.

On detailed inquiry about the Kako Basti irrigation structure and actual works done and the actual expenditure made it was learned that in April 29, 2014, VL. Malsawm Thiek, inquiring officer of Diphu police station registered a case in Diphu police station as revealed above, and forwarded the case to the Executive Engineer, PWD, Roads Division, Diphu requesting him to conduct a detailed analysis to ascertain actual work and value of the construction.

The project in question i.e. “Kako Basti Irrigation Scheme” worth Rs. 8 crore, 71 lakhs and 65 thousand was provided by the Ministry of DONER, under NLCPR against the proposal with an approved cost and admissible grant. To peruse the enquiry, the Executive Engineer referred the matter to the Additional Chief Engineer PWD (R&B) Hills, Assam, Diphu; and after much deliberation the matter was referred to the Superintending Engineer, PWD (R&B), Diphu Circle-I; the incumbent SE ultimately undertook the enquiry process along with Jugen Das. AEE of Diphu Road Division and Pratap Terang AE of Superintending Engineer, PWD (R&B) on June 12, 2014, vide letter No ACEH/TECH/09/2014-15/3-A.

The whole matter has remained sheltered within the PWD department’s file since then.

During a field inquiry, local people in the area alleged that nothing has been implemented in accordance with the DPR (detail project report) which was estimated at Rs.897.804 Lakhs from the NLCPR of 2011-2012. It was stated in the DPR that at least 160 families will benefit from the scheme. “You can assess with your naked eye that an exorbitant estimate has been prepared in every subject, projected command area of GCA 490Hect in fact has not been accommodated and the small head work like a sluice gate over the flow of Kaku does not discharge a faction of water as claimed in the DPR; similarly more than hundred percent expenditure has been made against items like survey and investigation, construction of Head Work both regular and temporary, diversion work, construction of Marginal dyke, river trimming and protection work in upper and middle stream, earth work in canal system, canal lining, construction of almost nonexistent approach road, hydraulic structure and fourth grade shed. Even a layman can understand the magnitude of corruption and embezzlement of public money carried out through this government of India project” a Kaku basti village resident said.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.