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CAG salvo at state

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By SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA
  • Published 21.08.10
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Ranchi, Aug. 20: A Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report has punctured holes in Jharkhand’s claim that it had put in place a well-equipped police force to fight Naxalites.

The 232-page report, tabled in Parliament on August 13, says there is a huge shortfall of strike weapons with the state police. State’s principal accountant general (audit) R.K. Verma released the voluminous report here today.

A sample check in six districts — Deoghar, Palamau, Ranchi, East Singhbhum, Hazaribagh and West Singhbhum — and four battalions, Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP)-1, JAP-5, JAP-6 and India Reserve Batallion (IRB)-2, revealed the alarming fact.

These districts and units had 15,119 strike weapons against a requirement of 19,805.

Ironically, Deoghar, which is not plagued by Maoist menace, had sufficient strike weapons, whereas five Naxalite-hit districts had a weapon shortage ranging between 29 and 64 per cent.

“The shortfall in strike weapons and their irrational distribution can lead to under-performance and casualties in anti-Naxalite operations,” the report noted.

The public fund monitor has also detected a huge shortage of security items such as bulletproof jackets and helmets, and patkas (a mini urban) for safety of police in anti-Maoist operations.

The state provided only 2,305 bulletproof jackets, 2,389 bulletproof helmets and 50 patkas to a sanctioned strength of 19,107 personnel and JAP-1, JAP-5, JAP-6 and IRB-2 troops in the Naxalite-hit Hazaribagh, Palamau, Ranchi and twin districts of Singhbhum. The audit has also questioned the quality of the bulletproof jackets, saying the police personnel were uncomfortable in them.

The report has also found irrational distribution of vehicles among police personnel. “Out of 888 vehicles in five districts, 419 were deployed at police stations, 181 retained by senior officers and 288 kept as reserve in police lines,” the report said.

A direct consequence of it could be the high reaction time taken by the police in following up on crime. The average reaction time was 166 minutes in the five districts mentioned above.

Palamau, a rebel-hit district, recorded the highest average reaction time of 346 minutes.

The report also makes a scathing attack on the state of National Rural Health Mission , Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency, the housing, civil aviation and rural development departments, and Jharkhand State Electricity Board.

The CAG has rapped the health department for an unauthorised expenditure of Rs 29.12 crore by the assistant engineer, engineering cell, Reproductive and Child Health Society. The assistant engineer was “authorised to sanction works and incur expenditure up to Rs 10,000 only,” Verma said.

The CAG has held the deputy development commissioners of Pakur and Sahebganj responsible for not monitoring distribution of foodgrains, causing misappropriation of 26,819.66 tonnes of foodgrains, worth Rs 30.23 crore, and wastage of foodgrains valued at Rs 18.58 lakh.

The audit report has also suspected misuse of funds totalling Rs 21.18 lakh in JREDA. The welfare department too sustained a loss of Rs 3.13 crore in paying interest after not utilising a Rs 48-crore loan from Hudco for building houses for tribal people.

The CAG hasn’t spared the state government (under Arjun Munda) either, criticising it for creating a civil aviation authority in violation of constitutional provisions. The report indicated unauthorised expenditure of Rs 10.74 crore.

“The authority was created in June 2005, though the law department was against it on the ground that civil aviation is a subject under the Union,” the report said.