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CAG lens on model schemes

- Auditor picks holes in education programme

Patna, July 15: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which keeps a tab on the finances of governments, has slammed Bihar for its poor performance in the social and economic sectors for the year ending March 31, 2013.

The CAG report, tabled in the Assembly today by minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, has raised questions about the state government’s most flaunted programmes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

The report has pegged the financial irregularities across government departments at more than Rs 10,000 crore. It has also highlighted the poor performance of Bihar’s public sector undertakings.

“We found shortcomings in almost every department so far as financial management is concerned. As per our performance audit report, the financial irregularities could easily be put beyond Rs 10,000 crore in 2012-13,” accountant-general (audit) P.K. Singh said at a news conference where he was accompanied by his deputies Atul Prakash, Parwez Alam, Indra Kumar and Azhar Jamal.

The audit watchdog tore apart the government’s claim of improved condition of primary education.

For example, enrolment of students in schools was one of the key agenda of the government of then chief minister Nitish Kumar. The CAG has pointed out excess enrolment against child population during 2012-13.

The test-check of records of four district programme officers (DPOs) of Sitamarhi, Khagaria, Kishanganj and Gaya revealed that the enrolment figure was more than the population of children in the 6-14 age group during 2012-13, the report said. Against a child population of 22,18,089, the respective DPOs of four districts had shown 23,02,785 children as enrolled — the figure inflated by 84,696.

According to the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC), the number of “out-of-school children” in the state decreased from 10,10,730 in 2008-09 to 2,82,669 in 2012-13. However, the report said the number of such children in the state was 9,49,900 when derived as per the earlier method followed by the council.

Scrutiny of records of the council revealed that of 71,762 schools, 357 were running without any teacher whereas 5,002 were running with a single teacher as on March 2013.

Thirteen per cent of the schools in the state were without buildings and were running in the open/beneath tree/community building etc, the report said. Basic facilities such as drinking water, toilet, separate toilet for girls, ramps for disabled, boundary wall, playground etc were absent in 18 to 76 per cent of test-checked schools, the CAG said in its report. Bihar lost out on central assistance and state share to the tune of Rs 19,279 crore, it added.

The CAG also pointed out a loss of Rs 433.94 crore to the state exchequer due to non-delivery of 25.58 lakh quintal of custom milled rice against 2.14 crore quintal of paddy released to the millers in advance in all 38 districts.

It pointed out that Bihar State Food Corporation (BSFC), in gross violation of the rules, released 55.37 lakh quintal of paddy to the rice millers in advance after taking a security deposit of Rs 50,000 from each miller.

“This loss was incurred because the food and consumer protection department did not follow the prescribed rules. According to the rules, the rice-mill owners had to provide 67 quintal rice to the Food Corporation of India and in return the state government was to release 100 quintals of paddy,” accountant-general Singh said. “In several instances, paddy was given to mill owners without taking rice from them. Many of the mill owners defaulted and the state government suffered a loss of Rs 433.94 crore. This was a major financial irregularity we detected.”

Also, paddy procurement amounting to Rs 2.37 crore (Rs 1.75 crore in Cherari block in Rohtas and Rs 62.45 lakh in Kudra block in Kaimur) against tampered documents and irregular land rent receipts defeated the very objective of providing minimum support price to bona fide farmers.