The Telegraph
Saturday , January 4 , 2014
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Idle civic funds pinch

Vehicles pass through a partially lit flyover at Yarpur in Patna. Picture by Ashok Sinha

Cashing in on observations of an ongoing audit in Patna Municipal Corporation, mayor Afzal Imam has sought details of unused funds for more than 30 schemes over the past decade from commissioner Kuldip Narayan.

Mayor Imam on Friday wrote a letter to the commissioner in this regard. The commissioner, who assumed charge in April 2013, has been asked to give the funds details in the next meeting of the empowered standing committee scheduled for January 6. Significantly, funds for most of the schemes under scanner were sanctioned before Narayan took charge.

An ongoing audit in Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) pointed out that government funds to the tune of Rs 94 crore for execution of various public utility schemes, including urinals, parking, sanitation, slum development and streetlights, were lying idle for the past several years (maximum up to eight years).

“Most of the funds have been sent by the state or the central government in the form of aid for specific public utility schemes. The idea behind funding the civic body is to benefit common people and everyone is responsible for its implementation, including the commissioner. Funds of several schemes are lying idle for the past several years and we would like the commissioner to give their current status and the reason behind the delay in funds utilisation in the next meeting of the standing committee,” said Imam.

Acknowledging the opening balance of Rs 94.23 crore against aids in the budget of the financial year 2013-14, the ongoing general audit being conducted by the finance and accounts office of the PMC has sought corresponding details.

“The audit is still on and no final observations have been made yet. Funds under certain aids were observed to have remained unutilised for several years. Accordingly, the corresponding sections have been asked to furnish the corresponding details,” said a senior PMC officer.

The final findings of the audit are yet to come, but residents of the city seem to be aggrieved. “I am running from pillar to post over the past three to four years for a concrete road in front of my house when the civic body is sitting on funds over Rs 4 crore for road construction. It reflects the inefficiency and insensitivity of the ward councillors as well as the PMC officers,” said Madhuri Sinha, a resident of road number 22 of SK Nagar.

Questions have been raised on revenue collection through hoardings and other forms of outdoor advertisement. The compact florescent light (CFL) installation scheme in the 72 wards has also come under the lens. The standing committee in its meeting held on March 28, 2012 had approved the proposal of installation of 50 CFL street lights in each ward. Before Id, Rs 2,50,000 was approved for installation of CFL streetlights near mosques under the supervision of the councillor concerned. But few streetlights have been installed.

The ongoing audit has raised certain queries related to the manner in which this scheme was conceptualised and executed. “It was found in the audit that there are no records with the PMC on the number of electric poles. Thus, on what basis it was decided that exactly 50 CFL streetlights have to be installed in each ward. Also, why reputable companies like Philips, Bajaj or Surya were not invited and why the work was done in bits and pieces (ward-wise). However, these are not findings. They are just queries for making progress in the audit work,” said the source.