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PAC to Probe Graft Charges in NCHAC

* Rs 1.75 crores embezzlement in Health sector alleged

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, Sept 13: Taking strong exception to allegations of corruption in the corridors of power in the Dima Hasao district, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Assam Legislative Assembly has decided to call for probe officials of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) with reference to the multi-crore misappropriation of allotted funds particularly in the Health department.

The present cloud of doubt hangs over a “suspected misappropriation” case. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report mentions: “Misappropriation of Rs 1.75 crores could not be ruled out as the Council failed to furnish details of utilization of Government money after its withdrawal from the district fund.”

Talking to The Sentinel, member PAC Ramendra Narayan Kalita said: “The PAC has viewed with concern the report of CAG of India on the issue. We’re not satisfied with the reply of the Health department. The Committee will carry out a detailed investigation into the charges. Officers of NCHAC would have to appear in person during the probe process.”

Rule 95 of Assam Financial Rules (AFR) provides that Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) is personally responsible for accounting of all money received and disbursed and for the safe custody of cash. Besides, Rules 78 and 79 of AFR provide that every payment must be supported by a claim and supporting voucher or acknowledgement.
However, in the present instance, the CAG states that the above rules were violated.

According to normal procedure, NCHAC was to release funds through cheques in favour of concerned line Department (Joint Director of Health services, Haflong) for implementation of the approved schemes/programmes.

CAG mentions that “scrutiny (May-July 2010) of the records, however, revealed that the Principal Secretary (Transfer), NCHAC, in connection with the existing procedure, drew three cheques amounting to Rs 1.90 crores in his favour during November 2007 to march 2009 for purchase of medicines (Rs one crore), implementation of health care schemes/programmes (Rs.0. 60 crores) and incentives to doctors (Rs0.30 crores) without any demand from the concerned line departments.”

The CAG report mentions: NCHAC failed to furnish utilization and whereabouts of Rs 1.75 crore (Rs 1.90 crores-Rs 0.15 crores) after its withdrawal from district fund. Thus, misappropriation of the said amount could not be ruled out.”

The report goes on to say: “Though the withdrawal from district fund was confirmed from the Treasury, but the line department received (April 2009) only Rs 15 lakh from the NCHAC on account of incentives to doctors. “
Stating that “the whereabouts of balance fund of Rs 1.75 crores could be confirmed either from the records of the Council or that of the line department”, the CAG report added: “Besides, basic records were not available with the Council, though called for.”

The term of Assam PAC is two-and-half year. It is the highest powerful committee of the Assam Legislative Assembly. It carries out investigations into the findings of the CAG report. The present chairman of Assam PAC is Rajdeep Goala.