Months after a Special Audit Report flagged financial irregularities in the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) — including non-action in getting approval/licence for an auditorium in Dwarka — MoS for Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma, in a reply to Rajya Sabha, clarified that “the loss of Rs 1.56 crore due to stoppage in letting out the auditorium cannot be computed, as there is no actual loss to the exchequer”. “Perhaps, only a notional loss has been mentioned in the audit report,” he said in a reply on July 24.
The Indian Express had first reported about the audit report on March 26. The report was probing allegations of financial and administrative irregularities by CCRT Director G C Joshi. It stated that “a loss of Rs 1.5 crore had been incurred due to Joshi’s non-action in getting approval/licence for the auditorium”. It also alleged that “the director hired 72 contractual staff against the sanctioned strength of 34, without following a bidding process in hiring, and no prior approvals were taken from the Ministry”.
Joshi had initially filed a complaint with Delhi Police, stating that scholarships meant for children were found to be siphoned off. While a case was registered, the special audit report in the matter was also released, which claimed that Joshi had caused loss of revenue to the centre.
As reported by The Indian Express on February 13, the report had flagged that a CCRT computer operator allegedly siphoned scholarship money meant for children aged 10-14 by tinkering with the soft copy of the scholarship data. The Delhi Police Crime Branch had taken over the case from the local police.
Sharma told the Upper House that the CCRT has stopped letting out the auditorium to outside agencies as “no fire licence was issued, and the DDA had not issued a completion certificate for the CCRT building”. He assured that once the certificates are received, “the matter of letting out the auditorium would be revisited”.
Asked if irregularities had taken place, Sharma replied: “Various financial and administrative irregularities in the CCRT have been pointed out in the special audit report, rendered by the Principal Chief Comptroller of Accounts and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
In another reply on July 31, he said, “(About) 348 cases of non-payment of scholarship, involving Rs 51,50,404, have come to the notice of the CCRT. The matter has been referred to the CBI for investigation.”