Match this for swindling public money meant for development

Dehra Dun: The state units of both the Congress and BJP in Uttarakhand swear by development of this nascent hill state which is barely in its 12th year of existence. But with the large scale corruption prevalent in the existing system in the state, funds meant for development are swindled to such an extent, that even the existing pitiable infrastructure will corrode and collapse.

A recent audit report of the state agriculture department has revealed that of the Rs 2.23 crores given to 35 developmental blocks for various projects, only Rs 11 lakhs were utilized, while the remaining Rs 2.12 crores were pocketed by the corrupt babudom. With such percentage of money meant for development being reportedly swindled, one can but imagine what is the state of affairs.

There will perhaps be no example in the country, not even in Bihar which was once rated very high on the corruption list, that the entire amount of over Rs 2.99 lakhs was swindled and not a single paisa spent on the project. This happened in the Umarpur projects and is not an isolated case.

In fact in the list highlighted by the audit team, which conducted the departmental audit from Feb 25 to March 1 this year, it was reported that the entire sum of over Rs 7.08 lakhs meant for the Kilawati project was also pocketed and nothing done at the ground level. How were completion reports of the projects given is anybody’s guess.

The report highlights the fact that in a Rs 4.09 lakh project for plantation in the water shed project at Umarpur, 1420 plants had to be planted but the team on verification found that 35 plants had been planted. In most the projects more that 70 per cent of the money has reportedly been siphoned off.

Ironically during the recent by-elections at Sitarganj from where chief minister Vijay Bahuguna is seeking election to the vidhan sabha, development was the main plank of the Congress party. But with this being the dismal record of development in the state, one wonders if the electorate fell into the long sounding promises made by the Congress leaders.

The million dollar question now is that as the department audit team has itself exposed the swindling of public money by the department officials, will the chief minister try to fix responsibility on the officers and other staff who were responsible for diverting the money to their personal coffers.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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1 Comment

  1. says: mayank gupta

    This kind of money-swindling is not new to Indian ministers and politicians. The ones suffering however, would be the aam junta that is supposed to be at the receiving end of these development projects caught in the clutches of scams and political loggerheads. There are many such projects of public interest, suffering from delays due to this approach, namely; alaknanda hydro power project, Unique ID project, Nuclear deal, Iran-pakistan-india pipeline projects etc.
    Delays and disturbances in completion of such projects hamper the development of the nation and is a huge setback on out country’s annual progress report.

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