Report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India on Economic Sector for the year ended March 2018, Government of Maharashtra, Report No. 2 of the year 2019

Audit Report No.2 of the year 2019

(Economic Sector)

Government of Maharashtra

(Presented to State Legislature on 02 July 2019)

This Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India contains findings on two performance auditsand deficiencies noticed during compliance audit of Government transactions.

Performance Audits

Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Department

  • Distribution of Agricultural Inputs to Farmers in Maharashtra

A performance audit on Distribution of Agricultural Inputs to Farmers in Maharashtra for the period 2013-18 indicated that there was shortfall in the supply of seedsas compared to the total requirement of seeds in the State. The seed production chain in the State was adversely affected which was more severe in case of soyabean seed, resulting in shortage in availability of quality certified seeds to the farmers. Allowing re-registration of some companies, overlooking quality deficiencies in Micro Irrigation systems manufactured/supplied by them, placing incorrect facts on record, resulted in extending unwarranted financial benefit to them. The grants released for SC and ST categories by Government of India under Micro Irrigation schemes, could not be utilized. Infrastructure for Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fingerprint test was created without inclusion of provisions of such tests and analysis in Seed Act 1966, resulting in facilities remaininginoperativeafter construction, besides idle expenditure thereon.

There was underutilization of funds resulting in surrender of fund. There were instances of incorrect reporting in Utilisation Certificates.The unspent balance of funds received as Government of India share was credited to the receipt head of Government account instead of reducing it from the concerned major/minor heads. There were cases of mis-appropriation of money collected by officials from beneficiaries as farmers’ contribution (Lokwata).No stringent action was taken by the department against such erring officials.

In the demonstration programmes, the department used old variety of seed instead of new one, which defeated the objectives of promoting new variety of seed. The production subsidy for foundation and certified seeds was not paid to farmers. There were instances of non-distribution of implements. Micro nutrients were not supplied to farmers in time. The Soil Testing Mini Lab Kits were purchased without assessing the requirement. There were deficiencies in online web portal for Micro Irrigation scheme.

The maintenance of records at field level relating to distribution of agricultural inputs to farmers was deficient; hence audit could not ascertain the beneficiaries to whom the inputs were distributed and whether they were distributed timely.The samples of seeds to be drawn were reduced in last three years, even though the number of producers, distributors and sellers increased. The target for quality control checks was not fixed prior to the beginning of the kharifseason and as such there was delay in furnishing quality test reports. There was delay in submitting the test results by the laboratories for agricultural inputs resulting in distribution of inferior quality of inputs to the farmers in case of failed samples. The percentage prescribed for cross check of Micro Irrigation systems by inter-district teams were not exercised.

 (Paragraph  2.1)

Revenue and Forests Department

  • Management of Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra

A performance audit on Management of Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra for the period 2012-18 indicated that apex level interventions for enabling policy decisions and major initiatives for protection and conservation of tigers were found to be inadequate. The Tiger Conservation plans, which play a significant role in finalizing the management strategy for 10 years were either not being formulated or were formulated with delays. Compartment histories which are important for providing inputs for plan formulation were not being maintained in any of the Tiger Reserves.

Presence of human settlements, and tourist facilities in core tiger habitats caused disturbances to wildlife and also reduced available inviolate space. The buffer area was fragmented owing to large number of villages, farmlands, highways and railway lines resulting in animal deaths. High tension electric lines passing through tiger reserves were not insulated.

Support infrastructure critical for protection of tiger habitats were found inadequate. Unregulated tourism was also a cause of concern. The monitoring and internal control mechanism required strengthening.

(Paragraph  2.2)

Compliance audit of Government transactions

Revenue and Forests Department

  • State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)

Audit of State CAMPA revealed that a huge number of diversion proposals were pending at various stages for approval. The Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest cum Nodal Officer did not maintain a database of non-forest land or degraded land received against the diversion of forest land. The details were also not maintained at Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (CAMPA) and at circles. The preparation of annual plan of operation was found deficient as there were cases of inclusion of compensatory afforestation works without adequate survey; non-inclusion of plantation works in plan within the stipulated period; inclusion of inadmissible items under CAMPA and inclusion of plantation works from State scheme.Besides, there were delays in submission of annual plans of operation to the Steering Committee. When compensatory afforestation works were executed on alternate lands, necessary approvals of Ministry of Environment and Forest were not taken always. Ministry of Environment and Forest’s stipulations in respect of works permitted to be undertaken with attached conditionwere also not followed. Thus, CAMPA funds could not be used economically and efficiently as delays in approvals had resulted in cost escalation which was not recovered from the user agencies and CAMPA funds had to be used. The scheme was ineffective in many instances as there were cases of diversion of fund for inadmissible purposes/unsuitable works and non-grounding of compensatory afforestation works under Annual Plan Operation as per rules. The reconciliation by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest cum Nodal Officer with Adhoc CAMPA for the amounts credited by the User Agencies was still pending. There were unreconciled differences between amounts released by State CAMPA and that shown as received by the circle offices under CAMPA. There were weak monitoring with resultant poor quality in execution of works.

 (Paragraph  3.1)

Water Resources Department

  • Implementation of Small Hydro Projects on PPP basis in Maharashtra

Audit on implementation of Small Hydro Project (SHP) on PPP basis covering the period 2013-14 to 2017-18 revealed that out of 121 projects identified by the Department, feasibility study of 61 sites (installed capacity of 266.87 Mega Watt) had not been completed at the time of identification of sites and 27 sites (installed capacity of 78.65 MW) were dropped being financially infeasible. Further as against estimated installed capacity of 417.85 MW, only 36.85 MW installed capacity was achieved.

In respect of sixselected commissioned projects, one project was commissioned within scheduled time and five projects were commissioned after delays ranging from 17 months to 63 months. There was time overrun ranging from 39 to 53 months in respect of two ongoing projects due to non-completion of dam and land handed over to developer was not in the name of Department. The projected annual power generation was not achieved, among other things, due to release of lesser volume of water.

Thus, due to improper planning and inadequate monitoring the objective of harnessing the green power with the help of private sector was largely defeated. Had the planning and monitoring been better, the outcome could have been different.

(Paragraph  3.2)

Water Resources Department

  • Implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme

Under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), 68 major/minor projects were included in the State since inception, of which 39 projects were completed prior to March 2013. Out of the remaining 29 projects, five were completed during 2013-18 leaving 24 projects ongoing as on March 2018.

The total funds received under AIBP were ` 11,541.58 crore (GoI share: ` 1,346.05 crore; GoM share: ` 10,195.53 crore) during 2013-18 against which expenditure incurred was ` 10,865.81 crore. The GoM delayed request for recovery of ` 90.08 crore towards construction and operation cost of Tillari Major Irrigation Project from Government of Goa since 2013-14. The Jalgaon Municipal Corporation (JMC) owed ` 757.85 crore to the TapiIrrigation Development Corporation towards cost involved in increasing height of Waghur dam for providing drinking water to JMC.

Out of 18 test checked projects in audit, 16 (89 per cent) were not completed within the timeline thereby defeating the very objective of accelerating the completion of irrigation projects under the AIBP. The time overrun in 18 projects ranged between five years to 10 years while the cost overrun was ` 7486.50 crore.

In Wang project out of 1,922 families to be resettled only 832 were resettled while eight amenities in the 15 villages of Wang project and two amenities in one village in Dhom-Balkawadi project were not provided.

 (Paragraph  3.3)

Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Department

  • Indecision to close down Mother Dairy, Kurla and Central Dairy, Aarey, Goregaon and to accommodate the identified surplus staff and machineries in Government Milk Scheme, Worli by Dairy Development Department and Government resulted in recurring loss of ` 39.11 crore per annum as well as nugatory expenditure of ` 17.51 crore.

(Paragraph  3.4)

Water Resources Department

  • Fraudulent payment of ` 12.21 crore against purported supply ofmaterial, which had actually never been supplied or brought to the work-site.

(Paragraph  3.5)

  • Commencement of work without acquisition of required land resulted in blocking of ` 2.18 crore on account of secured advance. Besides, ` 14.66 crore incurred on works proved to be unproductive.

(Paragraph  3.6.1)

  • Unfruitful expenditure of ` 3.54 crore was incurred on excavation and dewatering works owing to non-acquisition of required land for Lower Penganga Project.

(Paragraph  3.6.2)

  • The objectives of Lower Tapi Project could not be fulfilled owing to slow progress of land acquisition and tardy implementation of construction of dam and gate works there by rendering the expenditure of ` 235.02 crore incurred on the project unfruitful.

(Paragraph  3.6.3)

  • Excess payment of ` 2.54 crore was made to contractor due to payment at higher rates than tendered rates in Sapan Project.

(Paragraph  3.7)

  • Incorrect revision of rate analysis resulted in excess payment of ` 16.13 crore to the contractor.

(Paragraph  3.8)

Public Works Department

  • Tardy implementation of the work resulted in unfruitful expenditure of ` 7.76 crore due to non-completion of bridge even after lapse of nine years. Moreover, the very objective of providing all weather road connectivity between Chikalthana and Bhatkheda villages was defeated.

(Paragraph  3.9)

  • Failure to get the work of submersible bridge across Godavari river executed from the contractor and non-completion of remaining portion of the work for last five years resulted in blocking of ` 1.83 crore.

(Paragraph  3.10)

*** ENDS

About the Author

Sachin Murdeshwar
Sachin Murdeshwar is a Sr.Journalist and Columnist in several Mainline Newspapers and Portals.He is an ardent traveller and likes to explore destinations to the core.