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Thursday 12 April 2012

Corrupt Gujarat also polluted: CAG

Corrupt Gujarat also polluted: CAG

Gag Over CAG Finally Lifts; Taints Modi Govt’s Clean Image

The Times of India, 30th March 2012

Gandhinagar: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports for 2009-10 and2010-11,whichwere placed before the Gujarat state assembly on the last day of the budget session on Friday, have torn into the fair image of theNarendra Modi governmenton the issue of corruption by pointing out iregularities leading to a cumulative loss of nearly Rs 17,000 crore. The report specially focussed on pollution in the state.

Expectedly, as reported in the Timesof India earlier thisweekwhen we leaked the CAG reports the state government was sitting on, the biggest villain turned out to be the stateowned public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Petroleum C or po r at i o n (GSPC),whichhas enormous financial irregularities leading to losses of Rs 12,400 crore.

Again, as the sequel in TOI had suggested, the CAG also found losses worthover Rs4,500crorein other state PSUs, due to several deficiencies like infructuous investment, failure to discharge responsibility, lack of professionalism and accountability.

The reportsslammedthehandling of finances by the Gujarat government, saying there were regular unspent “excesses” left in all government departments over the last four years, and that there were “last minute fund releases and issuance of reappropriation/surrender orders at the fag end, particularly on the last day of the year.”

State-owned power distribution companies (DISCOMs) also bled the exchequer badly, according totheCAG reports. CAG has also come down heavily on the government for its failure to keep its water bodies, rivers, lakes and ponds,freeof pollution. Saying the SabarmatiRiverfront project’s planning andscopewas “inadequate”, CAG underlined, the project has “defeated” theobjectiveof keeping the river clean. Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) were not complying with norms on quality of discharge.

Further on pollution front, due to urbanization and industrialization, CAGsaidoutof 170urban localbodies (ULBs), 46 ULBs were discharging sewage into rivers. And of these, six ULBs had sewage treatment plants in order to release treated sewage into the rivers. Further, nine ULBs discharged “untreated sewage in the lakes, 26 into natural drains, and nine into the sea.

CAG found holes in the pipelined water supply in rural areas. It said, 32 per cent of drinking water sources were contaminated during a pre-monsoon survey, andthe affected villagerswere not even alerted about this. As a result, there was no reduction in the incidence of water-borne diseases across the state. In fact, the report said, the number of cases went up from 5.89 lakh in 2008 to 7.29 lakh in 2010.

With all but four Congress MLAs suspended from the House, there could be no debate on the damning CAG reports. As soon as the House began functioning on Friday, the MLAs Rajendrasinh Parmar, Paranjayadityasinhji Parmar, Jodhaji Thakore and Amit Chavda sought discussion on CAG report, which the speaker Ganpat Vasava disallowed..

The quartet rushed to the well carrying banners on CAG. They were suspended, quite predictably, and escorted out by the security staff.

ESSAR KA ASAR Non-finalization of the case of Essar Power Limited, a licensee, by the government despite direction from the court in March 2007 to decide the case within two months, resulted in blocking up of revenue of 97.46 crore including interest of 60.08 crore

BUS KARO Two fleet owners with Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation and Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services collected passenger tax of 199.75 crore but did not pay in prescribed time. Taxation authorities did not levy interest of 10.81 crore and penalty of 50.06 crore on delay in payment

LATE CUT Absence of levy of entertainment tax on T-20 cricket tournament organised by IPL resulted in foregoing entertainment tax of 1.38 crore

CHORI IN CHORYASI In 121 cases in Choryasi, Surat, the collector did not recover premium on transfer of land. The revenue foregone was 136 crore

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