AIZAWL, March 23 - Auto-rickshaws, cars and even scooters and bikes were hired to carry out earth excavation works. Yes, that sounds bizarre. But, it did happen in Mizoram, well, at least in utilisation certificates.
The Comptroller Auditor General of India, in its report tabled in the Mizoram State Assembly last week, has unearthed certain anomalies in the implementation of Border Area Development Programme (BADP) among which was “doubtful hiring of earth excavators”.
The CAG revealed that the Rural Development department and Block Development Officers (BDOs) of Champhai and Lungsen Blocks hired the above mentioned vehicles as “earth excavators” for executing earthworks in road construction near the Indo-Myanmar border during 2012 to 2017.
After cross checking the registration numbers of the “earth excavators” as shown in money receipts with the State Transport department, it was found that they were registration numbers of vehicles other than earth excavators.
These vehicles were hired as “earth excavators” in 67 works, thereby making doubtful payment of Rs 3.15 crore for hiring the said vehicles as “earth excavators,” the CAG said.
Furthermore, the CAG discovered, in 20 of the 67 works, the same vehicles (recorded as “earth excavators/trucks”) were utilised for earthworks at two or more different places at the same time. One of such vehicles recorded as earth excavator was utilised for executing earthworks in Tualcheng-Pamchung, Vapar-Murlen, Lungphunlian-Tualcheng and Hnahlan-Thinglian sectors.
When asked to clarify, the department stated that the earth excavator owners were usually communicated through mobile phones and the vehicle registration numbers were also inquired through the same. Some words and numbers might have been misheard and misunderstood leading to wrong entry of the registration numbers in the bills, the CAG said.
“The reply is unacceptable as it indicates the laxity of the concerned departmental officials who relied on information received from the owners of the earth excavators through mobile phones and not carried out checks to ascertain the genuineness of the claims,” the CAG said.