Friday, Oct 07, 2022

CAG Flags Deficiencies In Financial Management Of Centre's 'Clean Ganga' Project

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The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has flagged several "deficiencies" in financial management, planning and implementation of the central government's flagship Namami Gange Programme during the past three years.

The performance audit by the apex auditor has revealed "underutilisation" of funds and "delays" in project approvals and in achieving targets under the programme between 2014-15 and 2016-17.

The report was tabled in Parliament today.

"...Funds amounting to Rs 2,133.68 crore, Rs 422.13 crore and Rs 59.28 were lying unutilised with the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)," the report said.

The Clean Ganga Fund having a corpus of Rs 198.14 crore till March 31, 2017 could not be utilised by the NMCG and the entire amount was lying in banks due to "non-finalisation" of action plan.

The NMCG could not finalise the long-term action plans even after more than six-and-a-half years of the signing of an agreement with the consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology, stated the report.

"As a result, the NMCG does not have a river basin management plan even after a lapse of more than eight years of the National Ganga River Basin Authority notification," it said.

The report also flagged deficiencies in the work on the pollution abatement front.

As per the target dates, award for the work of all the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) was to be completed by September 2016.

"The NMCG is yet to finalise and approve detailed project reports for projects totalling 1,397 million litre per day capacity as of August 2017."

Out of 46 STPs, interception and diversion projects, and canal works costing Rs 5,111.36 crore, there were delays in 26 projects costing Rs 2,710.14 crore due to delay in execution of projects, non-availability of land and other factors, stated the report.

In the area of rural sanitation, the report said that except Uttarakhand, the other four states through which the Ganga passes -- Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- could not achieve the target of construction of 100 per cent individual household latrines till March 31, 2017.

"The NMCG and state governments released a total funds of Rs 951.11 crore for construction of latrines, solid liquid waste management and awareness activities to the five states that could utilise only Rs 490.15 crore."

Deficiencies in monitoring included infrequent meetings of related bodies and committees including the governing body, high-level task force, empowered task force and governing council.

"The mandate of establishment of Ganga Monitoring Centre was still under conceptualisation and planning phase at NMCG as of July 2017," it noted.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which was sanctioned Rs 198.48 crore for three projects on monitoring and evaluation, could spend just Rs 14.77 crore by March 2017.

Also, the Board could deploy only 36 automatic water quality monitoring systems as against 113 sites identified along the Ganga for continuous receipt of water quality monitoring on real-time basis.

The report recommended the NMCG to finalise Ganga River Basin Management Plan for implementation of long-term intervention aimed at rejuvenation of the river on priority basis and implement it in a time-bound manner.

For better monitoring, it suggested the use of geo- spatial data of National Remote Sensing Centre.