SERIOUS FINANCIAL irregularities in the functioning of old age home in Sector 15 have been found. The old age home, also known as the senior citizen home, is being run by the social welfare department of Chandigarh Administration.
The audit department of the Chandigarh Administration found that not just excess payments were being drawn from imprest money — a sum kept on hand, periodically replenished, and used for small expenditures — but financial irregularities in the purchase of grocery items and vegetables worth lakhs had been committed. The audit team also pointed out that payments for filling LPG cylinders were made for 19 kg capacity even when they found that no cylinder of this capacity existed in the old age home.
A special audit from 2012 till 2016 was conducted by the team after there were internal reports of financial bungling in running the old age home.
Finding that excess payments were made from imprest, the report stated, “It has been noticed that the huge cash payments in excess of imprest money has been made by the Resident Managers during the period of audit. The recoupment of imprest money in excess of amount paid as imprest is a serious irregularity and it needs to be ascertained the circumstances and reasons that how the Resident Manager made the payments in excess of imprest money on various occasions. The irregularity be brought to the notice of competent authority for consideration.”
In the details given by the audit team, they quoted 29 instances wherein even as sanctioned amount of imprest of Rs 5000 was increased to Rs 10,000 and 15,000 after 2014, money recouped was in excess to the sanctioned amount and in this way an amount of Rs 3.13 lakh was taken from the imprest. The audit team also found that purchase of grocery items and vegetables for the inmates which was shown in the record for Rs 5.07 lakh, was without calling any tenders.
“It has been noted that grocery items have been purchased from open market for inmates of Senior Citizen Home, Sector 15, Chandigarh, without following proper purchase procedure that is assessing demand of items, calling of quotations or tender and an amount of Rs 3,28,197 has been spent on the purchase of grocery items during the period of audit. Similarly, it has been noticed that vegetables also have been purchased from open market for inmates without following proper purchase procedure and an amount of Rs 1,79,373 has been spent on the purchase of vegetables during the period of audit,” the report stated.
The audit team found that an amount of Rs 1,89,710 was paid for filling LPG cylinders in the old age home, most of those were shown of 19 kg capacity even when no such cylinder was there. “The bill for refilling is of 19 kg cylinder but no cylinder of this capacity exists in senior citizen home,” the report said. In addition to this, the team found that an expenditure of Rs 18,74,430 was levied during the period of audit on running the senior citizen helpline but no records showed any decision of competent authority to incur the expenditure for running the helpline out of grants of senior citizen home.
“Senior Citizen Helpline was inaugurated on October 11, 2013 at Sector 19, Chandigarh. Since then the expenditure incurred for running Senior Citizen Helpline is being met out of the funds of Senior Citizen Home, Sector 15, Chandigarh. The decision of competent authority to incur the expenditure for running senior citizen helpline, Sector 19, Chandigarh out of the grant of senior citizen home, Sector 15, Chandigarh is not made available to audit,” it stated.
B L Sharma, secretary, Social Welfare Department, said, “I haven’t seen the report as of now. I will call an explanation of the officials involved in these irregularities and then if they are unable to defend themselves, we will initiate appropriate action.” The senior citizen home in Sector 15 has a capacity of accommodating 34 senior citizens. The place is restricted to widows or widowers who have no person to look after, senior citizens with no person to look after, with no place to live and have no income to support their living. There are around 30 homeless people living in this old age home
R K Garg, president of Second Innings Association, a senior citizens initiative, said he would write to the UT Adviser to get an inquiry conducted in these irregularities committed in the functioning of the senior citizens’ home.