An RTI query filed by The Indian Express has exposed financial irregularities in the expenditure of government funds by Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO),while executing its road-safety drive for the year 2011-12.
While it was learnt that quite a considerable amount of funds remained unaccounted for in 2011-12,it has also come to light that around 10 per cent of the total funds allotted to Pune RTO by the state government for carrying out a similar drive in the year 2012-13 remained unutilised.
Held annually over a period of fortnight every January since 2011 until it was made a week-long affair,the customary road safety drive includes largescale public awareness campaign on maintaining traffic discipline.
Measures like putting retro-reflective tapes on heavy vehicles,publicising literature on road safety and holding awareness workshops are being carried out by RTO every year during the drive.
Pune RTO had received Rs 8.8 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh for carrying out road-safety drives in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. The amount was more in 2011-12 since funds from the other RTOs in Maharashtra were diverted to Pune RTO.
As per information given by Pune RTO in response to an RTI application,Rs 85,321 out of the total funding of Rs 8.88 lakh meant for the year 2011-12 remained unaccounted with a total expenditure of Rs 7,96,377 shown on paper,even as Rs 6,302 was shown as unutilised. Meanwhile,in 2012-13,out of Rs 2.5 lakh received by Pune RTO,Rs 23,999 was not utilised. it has been revealed.
Reacting to queries on financial irregularities in expenditure of funds,RTO officials passed the buck on each other,saying that it was a joint responsibility to carry out the road safety drive and their department was not responsible for the discrepancies.
When apprised on the issue,Pune Regional Transport Officer Arun Yeola also parried detail queries,maintaining that bills submitted for certain expenditure during the drive could not get approved due to some reasons,and therefore those expenditures did reflect in the overall calculation.
Expressing concern over financial irregularities in expenditure of government funds by Pune RTO,road-safety activist Chandmal Parmar said the authorities concerned are answerable and accountable for each and every penny of government funds meant for public awareness programmes like annual road-safety drives.
The authorities should give justifiable reasons for financial void of Rs 85,000. The RTO should come out in public with adequate audit report for recent fiscals, he said,also expressing strong objection to certain amount funds meant for road-safety drive not getting used.
Artscope,which is believed to be private firm,was handed over work of printing banners,posters and flex on road-safety issues for two consecutive years till 2012-13,was given over Rs 55,000 for the work. Rs 49,613 was spend on reflective tapes in 2011-12,while the expenditure under the same head for 2012-13 was Rs 48,720.
Among major expenditure,more than Rs 7 lakh was spend by Pune RTO on printing of literature on road discipline in 2011-12,while the expenditure on the same was Rs 1.5 lakh in the last fiscal. All this work was said to have been undertaken by the local government press.
While Pune RTO received different amounts to carry out the drive in 2012-13 and the previous year,its expenditure on bouquets have surprisingly remained the same as Rs 8,400 for both years,leaving scope in the minds of activists on whether some kind of manipulation has taken place even while divulging information under the RTI Act.