‘Rs 24.36 crore irregular, inadmissible expenditure made under scheme’
Srinagar, Apr 08: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pointed out that authorities of Jammu & Kashmir did not conduct survey before preparation of annual plan of operations (APOs)to collect physical data for identifying degraded forests.
According to the CAG report, the audit noticed that in all 27 selected divisions, no survey was conducted prior to preparation of APOs. “The APOs were instead prepared on the basis of the financial limits fixed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF). No funds were released during 2015-20 for the survey in respect of 27 selected divisions. The impact of development project on the forest area and results of compensatory afforestation could not be realistically evaluated in absence of survey,” reads the report, a copy of which is in possession of news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).
As per operational guidelines for the scheme, the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) was to be prepared after conducting detailed surveys to collect physical data for identifying the treatment measures like planting in trenches in hilly areas, pit planting with water harvesting measures in flat areas, etc.
The audit also noticed delays between one month to 16 months in formulation of APOs by the implementing agencies; between 21 days and eight months in accordance of approval by the executive committee; and between 23 days and eight months in approval by the steering committee.
”Due to delay in preparation/ finalisation of APOs, the utilisation of funds of Rs 18.69 crore was delayed. As a result, plantation of 10.694 lakh saplings for rehabilitation of 894.68 hectare of degraded forest, fencing of 3.03 lakh running feet (rft), 1.17 lakh pasture patch development works, raising of 17.4 lakh nursery plants and 1,964 cum of dry rubble stone masonry (DRSM) could not be carried out in respective years of plan, “the report states.
The report also reveals that no alternate non-forest land was transferred to the Forest department for compensatory afforestation as required under The Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act. “Site specific schemes were not prepared by the Forest Divisions for compensatory afforestation at sites contiguous to or in the proximity of forest in respect of forest land of 2,757.78 hectares diverted for non-forest purpose,” the report states.
The report has revealed that Rs 9.24 crore (out of total expenditure of Rs 140.25 core) out of CAMPA funds were spent on inadmissible components such as purchase of office equipment, construction of office complex etc.
“There was irregular expenditure of CAMPA funds of Rs 15.12 crore on establishment of two zoos,” the report states—(KNO)