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Stink over idle funds in bank

- Crores to clean Patna lying unused

Patna, July 14: Government funds meant to clean the garbage from the city was kept in a bank by the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) as fixed deposit for the past six years, depriving tax-paying residents of the next tranche of assistance.

The streets of Patna continued to stink with unattended garbage all these years, while the amount parked in the bank gained interest to the tune of Rs 12.44 crore.

An ongoing audit of the PMC by the accountant-general’s office has revealed that funds amounting to Rs 23.09 crore released to the civic body by the central and state governments in 2008 for the much delayed Patna Solid Waste Management Project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was kept as fixed deposit in Bank of Baroda.

The audit team has also suspected anomaly in utilisation of civic funds during the same period by means of making dubious payments using forged documents to rented trucks and tractors for dumping garbage at the landfill site located at Ramachak-Bairiya village on the Patna-Gaya road.

The audit team has stated that since the money was kept as fixed deposit, the fundamental purpose for the aid had been defeated. “Neither was the PMC able to procure equipment under this project nor did it construct the waste processing plant at the landfill site. Also, owing to non-utilisation of funds, the PMC could not get the remaining funds from the central government’s share under this project, amounting to Rs 13.86 crore,” said the PMC official.

Senior government officers said while it wasn’t illegal to keep funds meant for a project as fixed deposit, questions were being asked because of the duration for which the money was locked in.

“As per the practice in the state government, departments or corporations can keep heavy funds with banks as fixed deposits and earn interest but it is suggested for short periods only, say three months or six months. If the fixed deposits have been kept for longer periods, then it shows laxity of the agency concerned in utilising the funds,” said Rameshwar Singh, principal secretary, finance.

The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee under the ministry of urban development had, in 2007, sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 36.95 crore for the Patna solid waste project, slated to be executed in 18 months. The state urban development and housing department, in January 2008, released funds to the tune of Rs 23.09 crore, which included the Centre’s initial share as well.

However, the money was never used for the purpose. “Rather than utilising even a single rupee, the money amounting to Rs 23.09 crore was deposited as fixed deposit with Bank of Baroda on January 21, 2008, and later it was transferred to Dena Bank on April 9, 2012, for another two years. At the time of maturity on April 8 this year, the value of the fixed deposit amounted to Rs 35.55 crore and it was further renewed for six months,” said a senior PMC official.

The government said even the interest accrued on account of the fixed deposit has to be used for the scheme for which the money was released. Principal secretary Rameshwar Singh said: “According to a related circular of the state government, the interest generated is required to be used under the same scheme as project cost escalation is perceived in most such cases.”

DEPOSIT TRAIL

  • Project: Patna Solid Waste Management
  • Sanctioned project cost: Rs 36.95 cr
  • Amount released to PMC: Rs 23.09 cr in Jan. 2008
  • Jan. 21, 2008: FD of Rs 23.09 cr with Bank of Baroda
  • April 9, 2012: FD transferred to Dena Bank
  • April 8, 2014: Maturity value Rs 35.55 cr
  • Interest: Rs 12.44 cr