2014 floods: Rs 30 lakh embezzled from funds allotted to hire evacuation boats in Srinagar



    Srinagar: An amount of over Rs 30 lakh was embezzled from the funds sanctioned by the authorities to hire boats for evacuation during 2014 devastating floods in this summer capital, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report said.

    Meanwhile, the Audit noticed that none of the test checked districts had formulated evacuation plans in case of any disaster.

    The report said that the District Administration, Srinagar, had hired 504 boats for evacuation of people from the flood affected areas at a cost of Rs 1.77 crore during September 3, 2014 to October 10, 2014.

    “While it may be difficult to ensure strict compliance with all procedural formalities in an emergency situation, it is nevertheless necessary that minimum controls are exercised to ensure reaching of assistance to the affected persons as well as prevent misuse of funds meant for relief and rehabilitation,” it observed.

    The Disaster Management Act stipulates the requirement of authorization by the authority for procurements and certificate of utilization by the authorized controlling officer.

    The Audit noticed that no record was maintained of the decisions taken for hiring of boats, nomination of nodal officers and constitution of committee of officials to monitor the rescue operations.

    Details of rescue operations viz area and location where the boats were deployed, number of affected people rescued, details of area/camps where these rescued people were sent, details of arrangement of food and lodging in these areas/camps were not on record.

    The Audit also noted that Rs 1.77 crore was paid to the President of All J&K Shikara Owners’ Association. As per the sanctions, payments were to be made in the range of Rs 38000 to Rs 10000.

    Scrutiny of the bank statements of payments made to the boatmen by the Deputy Commissioner (DC), Srinagar revealed less payment of Rs 30,16,000.

    In addition, 58 boatmen to whom hire charges of Rs 20.02 lakh were sanctioned by the DC Srinagar were not reflected in the bank statement.

    The Audit check of bank statement of Shikara Owner’s Association showed that Rs 41.68 lakh was paid to persons who were not reflected in the lists of the boatmen prepared by the DC Srinagar.

    It was also noticed that Rs 9.50 lakh was drawn by the President of the Association on self cheques for disbursement to boatmen.

    However, it said no records were available to verify whether such payments were actually made.

    It said the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the SDMP require preparation of an evacuation plan and identification of relief centres or camps by the district authorities. Audit noticed that none of the test checked districts had formulated evacuation plans in case of any disaster. No evacuation, relief centres and camps had been identified in any of the test-checked districts. In the absence of a response and evacuation plan, rescue, evacuation and relief was managed in an ad hoc manner and without even a minimum of controls.