Economy

CAG finds anomalies in CSIR facility’s pact with TCG firm

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 08, 2013

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The Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology (IGIB), which is under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), did not follow due diligence before entering a public-private partnership to set up The Centre for Genomic Application (TCGA), a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has said.

The activities of TCGA, a national research facility set up in 2004, were suspended in 2011, as it was unable to achieve its objective of supporting and creating a shared resource base for research and development by industry, universities and lab groups.

The agreement, drawn by IGIB, also favoured the private partner, Chatterjee Management Services, CAG said in its compliance audit report submitted to Parliament on Friday.

The selected private partner belongs to The Chatterjee Group (TCG), founded by Purnendu C. Chatterjee, who is also co-founder of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd and has been associated with the George Soros Organisation for several years.

E&Y report

According to the CAG report, TCG had approached the department of biotechnology and IGIB in March 2001 for setting up a “world-class research facility in genomics and proteomics”. CSIR approved the proposal in 2003, following which IGIB inked the agreement in the same year for setting up TCGA, without even waiting for the consultant’s report (Ernst & Young), which it had itself hired for an industry analysis.

In its reply in 2010, the CSIR said the partner was selected on the basis of its credentials in the field.

However, the CAG said the reply “was not acceptable as it was seen from the consultant’s report that there were at least a dozen companies of equal repute in the field”, adding that “IGIB did not invite offers from these entities before signing the agreement with CMS and selected the private partner for the project without following a transparent and competitive process.”

Apart from this, the CAG report found excess payment of project management fee (over the admissible limit of Rs 85.50 lakh) to the private partner, an avoidable Rs 1.15 crore spent on renting space, irregular allotment of government space, an extra Rs 3.28 crore spent on installation of equipment, and under-charging for services for a project on cholera-typhoid vaccine research, among other anomalies.

“The financial practices of TCGA leaned in favour of the private partner,” the CAG report said.

It also said that this was among the reasons that its objective of becoming a national research facility remained largely unachieved and it activities had to be suspended.

>aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

Published on September 08, 2013

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