Flagging an alleged multi-crore scam in the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB), a Government of Gujarat undertaking, former chief minister Suresh Mehta said on Friday that the Board has not complied with the accounting standards prescribed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Mehta, who is part of Lok-shahi Bachao Abhiyan (Campaign to Save Democracy), an organisation of Gujarat’s intellectuals , cited the annual accounts and auditor’s report (2017-18) of the water board, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly in February 2019, and raised questions about water supply billed for Rs 340 crore that is unaccounted for.
Addressing mediapersons, Mehta raised questions about the quantum of water bills mentioned in the report. Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited has raised bills of water charges amounting to Rs 502 crore for supply of water to GWSSB up to the financial year 2017-18. Of these bills, GWSSB has acknowledged bills worth Rs 163 crore, which it will pay. “What happened to the water bills worth Rs 340 crore? Did the water supplied to GWSSB evaporate?” asked Mehta, seeking an explanation from the state government entity.
“This multi-crore scam happened in just one year,” Mehta said. He pointed out that the independent auditor’s report had stated that the “board has not complied with the accounting standards prescribed by ICAI” with respect to valuation of inventories, depreciation, provisions for long-term employee benefits in the form of gratuity and leave encashment, disclosures related to fixed assets and tests of impairment of assets.
The auditor’s report also points out that the “internal control system over various areas of operations is inadequate and needs to be strengthened on account of inadequate staff, resulting in work not being carried out in an effective manner”.
4 crore people drink impure water
Suresh Mehta alleged that the Gujarat government had tweaked water purity standards, as a result of which four crore people are forced to drink contaminated water. Citing the GWSSB report, Mehta said that 10 out of 13 standards on water quality specified by the Centre had been tweaked by the Board, which means that even contaminated water with high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is allowed to be supplied.
“There are total 13 different standards which have to be followed while supplying water to the people. Now, the Board has changed 10 such parameters,” said Mehta. “The report says that permissible limit for TDS can be 2,000 mg per litre instead of the current limit of 500, if no alternative source of water is available.”
The board had also reported bacterial contamination in Narmada water, but the government had taken no steps to correct this, he said.
With PTI inputs