Cuttack Municipal Corporation paid for the tractors, but audit found they were two-wheelers – The New Indian Express

Express press service

CUTTACK: An audit of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) for the financial year 2019-2020 uncovered huge irregularities and loss of revenue amounting to millions of rupees. Case in point: Payments were made for tractors to lift and dispose of waste, but verification of the registration number showed the vehicles were two-wheelers, according to the 283-page audit which charged three officials with the civic body for financial fraud.

He pointed to undue favors and fictitious payments given to a company engaged in solid waste management, including irregularities in the issuance of diesel and payment for the repair of fogging machines. The audit also inquired why the civic body provided cleaning materials amounting to Rs 3,46,564 to the private agency BBGMSPL which is in charge of waste management of 36 neighborhoods.

When the auditing agency – the Local Funds Audit Branch under the Finance Department – issued a note of objection, CMC did not provide any answers or defend the questions.

“The CMC unreasonably upheld the tenderer’s favor, which caused an obvious loss to the civic body. It is quite surprising that despite the audit objections raised earlier, the practice of issuing materials continues to waive the terms and conditions. If these documents had not been given to the private agency, they could have been used in some services of the CMC and thus money would have been saved,” the report states.

He added that the officials responsible for running the cleaning supplies store “may have a connection with themselves and the company at the expense of the funds of the civic body” and suggested recovering the amount from the CMC health worker who is responsible for supplying the items to the private agency.

The alleged frauds don’t stop there. While reviewing the issue of fuel for vehicles (tractors) contracted by the private agency for lifting and transporting garbage to the landfill, the audit on cross-checking through the Vahana portal detected that it were two-wheelers.

It was noticed that the civic body issued 4,666 liters of diesel amounting to Rs 3,31,204 showing the use of tractors leading to huge embezzlement of public funds.

“Since these vehicles are not tractors, the shown rubbish trips being lifted by these fictitious vehicles and the corresponding payment to the tune of Rs 2,76,21,033 made against skilled and unskilled laborers who were engaged for loading and unloading jobs are simply wrong,” the audit report said.

Similarly, the CMC had demonstrated having incurred expenses amounting to Rs 6,35,336 for the repair of 30 foggers in 2019-2020. The audit reviewed previous payments and learned that in February 2019, the civic body had spent Rs 4,89,682 on the repair and maintenance of 59 foggers.

The audit report stated that the expenditure was incurred for the same within one year without any tender. Until satisfactory compliance is submitted by the CMC, the expenditure amounting to Rs 3,50,14,800 is held under objection.

Meanwhile, the audit report singled out three other officials including the finance officer, the auditor and a junior assistant from the CMC for the irregularities and offered them recovery commensurate with their liability.

Melissa C. Keyes