A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) says that between 2008-2010, two Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) in the office of the Commissioner, Social Welfare (Pune), drew Rs 808.83 crore although it was not needed for immediate use, thereby violating Rule 57 of the Bombay Financial Rules 1959.
As per Rule 57, money should not be drawn from the treasury unless it is for immediate payment. Drawing advances is not allowed for execution of works, the completion of which is likely to take a considerable time.
The CAG report not only specifies the break-up of the amount drawn along with date and year but also gives designations of the two officers – Accounts Officer (Loan) and Assistant Commissioner. The report states that the Accounts Officer (loan) drew the funds four times between March 2009 to March 2010-Rs 175.60 crore (March 31, 2009), Rs 117.36 crore (March 31, 2009), Rs 305.81 crore (31 March, 2010) and Rs 202.05 crore (31 March, 2010). The Assistant Commissioner drew Rs 8.01 crore in March 2010.
Speaking on the report, Ranjit Singh Deol, Commissioner of Social Welfare Department, Pune, said that in the first case, which shows the sum drawn under the designation “accounts officer,” the said amount was drawn for the Ramai Gharkul Yojana introduced in 2008-2009. “Under the initial plan, we invited applications from people who had an income of less than Rs 1 lakh per annum, and received huge number of applications. Accordingly, the said sum was drawn for disbursal. However, later we received new guidelines which said that the scheme should give first priority to people who were Below Poverty Line (BPL). This change in plan caused a delay in disbursal of the amount,” said Deol, adding that the amount was disbursed to beneficiaries.
Giving details of the progress, he said 1,60,000 houses have been completed and 50,000 are under construction.
The remarks in the CAG report about the drawn amount of Rs 175.60 crore and Rs 305.81 crore, by the accounts officer, states, “Funds drawn for implementation of low-cost housing scheme in rural areas were disbursed to implementing District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) in October 2010. Nine DRDAs returned Rs 99.21 crore to the Commissioner between March 2011 and March 2012 as there were no eligible beneficiaries. The Government confirmed (November 2013) the facts.” For the drawn amount of Rs 117.36 crore and Rs 202.05 crore, the report remarks “Funds drawn for implementation of low cost housing scheme in urban areas were disbursed to implementing agencies in October 2010. However, Rs 28.10 crore was returned by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (March 2011).”
In case of withdrawals by the second DDO, the remark given in the CAG report states, “Funds drawn for the implementation of post matric scholarship scheme for SCs and OBCs were retained in DDO’s bank account and finally credited (December 2011) to the government account. The government stated (November 2013) that instructions were given to all ACs regarding payment of fee under the scheme to beneficiaries.”
Withdrawal of funds at the end of the financial year was not only unjustified, but violated provisions of the Bombay Financial Rules, 1959.
Deol said, “As and when we detect a flaw in any practice, we take corrective measures. Earlier, the scholarship amount used to be drawn in bulk as per applications from colleges and universities. However, under the new practice that we have adopted for e-scholarship scheme, the amount is drawn as per individual online applications received from students, which is deposited directly in their bank accounts.” He added, “So in future, there will not be unnecessary drawal of funds, and drawn funds will be disbursed immediately.”