File picture of workers repairing a stretch of road
March 5: The public works department has used Rs 7.96 crore from the calamity relief fund to reconstruct city roads even though the Centre had categorically refused to fund routine road repair from its disaster funds, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has found.
The expenses of a host of road repair projects taken up by the PWD since 2004 were met by diverting funds provided under the Calamity Relief Fund, the latest CAG report said.
In September 2001, the special secretary and central relief commissioner told the Assam chief secretary that the 11th Finance Commission had considered and categorically rejected the state governments proposal to meet expenditure on restoration and reconstruction of road from the calamity relief fund.
The Centre had made it clear that the relief fund was to be utilised for immediate repair of damaged infrastructure in sectors like communication, power, public health, drinking water supply and primary education. Roads were out of this list.
The CAG has now found that division number 1 of PWD diverted Rs 2.97 crore from the calamity relief fund for special repair of 15 city roads till May 2004.
The state revenue department sanctioned Rs 3.4 crore and Rs 51 lakh for 19 flood-damage repair projects and directed that the expenditure be debited to calamity relief fund between June 2004 and April 2005, the CAG report said.
It turns out that the PWD spent Rs 3.63 crore against 18 projects during that period, none of which were not included in the flood-damage repair category.
Only one flood-damage repair project was taken up between June 2004 and April 2005, which cost the PWD a mere Rs 6 lakh.
Between January and August 2004, Guwahati city division number II of PWD received Rs 4.39 crore from calamity relief fund for repair and restoration of 14 roads.
The CAG has found that the division spent the entire amount on special repair by naming the projects as flood damage repair with the concurrence of the state government.
There was nothing on record to show that the 14 roads for which the amount was sanctioned had been damaged by natural calamities and were in need of immediate repair and restoration, the CAG report said.
The auditors said diversion of calamity relief fund for special repair of roads is a gross violation of guidelines and instructions issued by the Centre.
Though the CAG reported the matter to Dispur in April last year, there has been no reply from the governments end.