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‘Gaps’ in Kalakshetra project

Guwahati, Aug. 6: A report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India today revealed that Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra Society and the Assam government have failed to complete the construction of an auditorium complex even after seven years from the stipulated date of completion rendering expenditure of Rs 17.72 crore unproductive.

In 1999, the Society submitted a project report to the Planning Commission through planning and development department of the state government for construction of Srimanta Sankaradeva International Convention Centre and an auditorium complex at a cost of Rs 27.91 crore.

The project report envisaged construction of three auditoriums with seating capacities of 300, 800 and 1,250 with estimated provisions of Rs 22.47 crore and other ancillary works worth Rs 5.44 crore.

According to the project proposal, the Centre and the state government were to bear the costs of auditoriums and ancillary works respectively.

In 2001, the Planning Commission sanctioned Rs 20 crore to the under non-lapsable central pool of resources, inter alia, mentioning that instead of thinning away resources over three auditoriums, initially the need should be restricted to two auditoriums with seating capacities of 300 and 1250 respectively.

It also indicated that no further funds would be made available for the project.

But CAG scrutiny of the records of the Society revealed that disregarding the directive of the Planning Commission, the state government later decided to construct the auditorium complex according to the original project report.

The work was awarded to a firm to complete construction by December 2005.

“Scrutiny has revealed that the contractor stopped work during March 2006 because of non- availability of funds completing only the auditorium with 300-seating capacity which was opened to the public in January 2006. The physical progress of the remaining two auditoriums could be achieved up to 38.35 and 85 per cent respectively when the contractor stopped work in March 2006. As of May 2009, the contractor was paid Rs 19.92 crore, including Rs 2.20 crore paid for the completed auditorium of 300 seating capacity,” the report said. The report said reminders for release of funds by the Society were issued to director, cultural affairs department of the Assam government, from time to time. Finally, the cultural affairs department in 2011 sanctioned Rs 9.04 crore under the chief minister’s special scheme and released Rs 4.52 crore to the Society for completion of the remaining work of the two incomplete auditoriums.

“However, till the date of audit no further progress was achieved on the work despite availability of funds,” the report said.