CAG Finds Faults With Improved Apple Stock Plants Import

Shimla: Failure of horticulture department to timely import planting material which including apple, cherry and peach plants not only resulted in loss of Rs 16.74 lakhs but also led to locking up of Rs 2.79 crore in bank accounts for more than 2 years, auditors have pointed out.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out that director horticulture submitted a proposal in September 2007 for importing 68,050 plants of different varieties from Van Well Nursery – a USA based plant material supplier, at a cost of Rs 5 crores.

These plants were to be supplied to orchard owners at subsidized rates of Rs 150 and Rs 750 per plant. The government sanctioned the Rs 5 Crore in January, 2008.

While 80 percent of the plants were to be supplied to orchardists after one year of post entry quarantine and the rest were to kept by the department for multiplication purposes.

Audit scrutiny stumbled upon that the department an anticipation of the government sanction had place an order for supply of 43,353 plants to be supplied before February/March 2008 and that of 1,36,200 plants before March 2009.

Against the supply order, the department received 39,100 plants at a cost of Rs 2.11 crore in March, 2008 and the further supply was not received till March 2010. CAG points out that the department took no action to get the supply of the remaining plants.

Out of the Rs 5 crore drawn from the treasury, only Rs 2.21 was spent which including the plant material costs and the remaining Rs 2.79 crore was lying unutilized in a bank as on March 2010, which was in contravention of financial rules, the auditor states.

After the auditors pointed out this out in December 2008-May2010 audit, the department deposited Rs 2.79 crore along with Rs 14.97 lakh as interest in the state treasury.

Of the 39,100 plants imported, as many as 2962 perished during quarantine that resulted in an loss of Rs 16.74 lakhs, which CAG says was ‘considerably high’.

Against the required 31,280 (80 percent) plants which were to be distributed to the orchardists, director horticulture only distributed 16,792 (43 percent) and the remaining were allotted to progeny cum demonstration orchards and University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan.

The audit findings were referred to the government but till September 2010, no reply had been received, the auditor mentions.

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