The CAG has awarded the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited (HPSEB) a negative grade for concealing huge losses as an audit of the firm unearthed losses to the tune of Rs 676 crore in 2011-12 while the electricity board had declared losses of only Rs 315 crore for the period.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday,a day after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)reports were presented in the state Assembly,the Himachal Pradesh Principal Accountant General (AG) Satish Loomba said the HPSEB had not only purchased power from outside the state at exorbitant rates but also committed irregularities in payment of revised wages and other benefits to its employees under the Sixth Pay Commission norms. The HPSEBL showed a loss of Rs 315 crore during 2011-12 but when CAG auditors scrutinised the losses,these were found to be more than double of what the HPSEB had declared. We have told the HPSEB that its accounts are not a true reflection of its financial position and so we have awarded it a negative grade, Loomba added.
Highlighting some of the important findings of the CAG,the principal AG said that the fiscal situation of all 19 PSUs in the state was not good and of total declared losses of Rs 1360 crore,Rs 224 crore was reported in 2011-12. Moreover,he added,the figures projected by most PSUs were not true. The CAG has also questioned grave irregularities in the working of PSUs.
Loomba particularly took a dig at the State Forest Corporation,which caused losses between Rs 32 and 35 crore by lowering the royalty on timber extracted from certain areas while side-stepping the government. It sold the timber at shockingly low rates after taking an arbitrary decision of declaring certain forest areas as inaccessible. This is the governments domain and not that of the forest corporation, the Himachal principal AG said.
The biggest revelation of the CAG report,however,relates to the poor performance of the state government in the power sector. Of the 559 projects,having an aggregate capacity of Rs 10,131 MW,allotted to private power producers between 1991 and 2012,only 55 per cent of them have been completed. We are making efforts to quantify the loss suffered by the state in terms of value of power that could have been made available for sale due to this delay, Loomba said. The report has also drawn government attention to the lack of proper environmental protection measures during execution of these projects,besides the inability of the government to invoke the mandatory 70 per cent jobs to Himachalis clause.
The CAG squarely blamed the government of not monitoring the progress of the hydro-power projects and has cited the glaring example of the Jaiprakash Power company which had on its own enhanced the capacity of the Karcham Wangtoo project from 1,000 MW to 1,200 MW due to failure of the power department. Though we believe that the government is on a learning curve as far as power projects implementation is concerned but it is required to fine tune agreements with companies and ensure that core areas of projects are not out sourced to consultants who have no accountability, Loomba said.
Meanwhile,the CAG found Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation indulging in undue favour to a private contractor during 2009-10 causing a loss Rs.2.61 crore to the exchequer. In fact,the Corporation did not recover mobilisation advance in a time-bound manner from the contractor including a company Patel Engineering Ltd.. Its a violation of the Central Vigilance Commission guidelines, the CAG said.