CAG pulls up MHA for injudicious release of funds for Indo-Nepal road project

Parvathi Benu | Updated on: Apr 06, 2022

The project was approved in November 2010 by the Manmohan Singh government

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its latest report has come down heavily on the Ministry of Home Affairs for injudiciously releasing funds towards constructing the India-Nepal border road. In the report that was made public on Wednesday, Constitutional Authority said that the MHA did not analyse the year-wise trend of expenditure of the States before releasing funds on the basis of requisition and this has in fact resulted in unspent balance each year.

The 1,377 km-long road is planned to build through the border that Nepal shares with three states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. The project was approved in November 2010, by the Manmohan Singh government.

Lumpsum amount release criticised

According to the latest CAG data, of the funds released by the MHA to these states, Uttarakhand has spent only less than half the amount every financial year, from 2015-16. The better of the lot was FY21, where 35 per cent of the funds were spent. “In 2016-17, ₹200 crore was released for the stretch of 43 km of road of Thuligad-Rupaligad. Audit noticed that the State Government could utilise only ₹122.09 crore out of ₹209.14 crore as of March 2021. Hence, release of ₹200 crore in one installment was also injudicious in view of the trend of expenditure in earlier years as well as the fact that construction of road is done in stages for which proportionate amount can be released periodically,” the report reads.

Low utilisation of funds

The expenditure was less than 50 per cent in Uttar Pradesh in five financial years. The situation was smilarly bad in Bihar too, where only 13 per cent of the funds were utilised in FY 18. Here, the report says that funds were released before land was acquired. “Release of lump sum amount of ₹400 crore by MHA in 2013-14 without acquisition of land or forest/wildlife clearance was not prudent,” it says. The report also notices an irregular release of ₹2.34 crore.

While low utilisation of funds is being criticised, the CAG also says that the projects costs increased by ₹831.30 crore due to the slow progress of construction of roads, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “MHA while accepting the audit observation stated (December 2021) that slow progress of road construction work was mainly due to delay in receiving statutory clearances, land acquisition and obtaining Forest & Wildlife clearances and the time overrun resulted into cost escalation,” it notes.

Published on April 06, 2022
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