Local fund audit finds irregularities in Corporation schemes

The local fund audit of the Thiurvananthapuram city Corporation for the financial year 2011-12 has found irregularities in the implementation of various welfare schemes by the local body. The auditors criticised the Corporation for lack of initiative in carrying out such schemes meant for the underprivileged.

Ashraya project

The implementation of the Ashraya project to provide housing, drinking water, nutritious food, and medical and sanitation facilities to the destitute and homeless came in for sharp criticism. Out of the Rs.34.59 lakh earmarked for the project, only Rs.3.5 lakh was withdrawn for ‘distributing nutritious food,’ the audit report said. But no details were provided to the auditors on how this amount was spent. Another area of criticism was the poverty alleviation fund. As per clause 284 of the Kerala Municipality Act 1994, 2 percent of the local body’s revenue should be set aside for the Urban Poverty Alleviation (UPA) fund.

Shortfall

But, as of March 2012, there was a shortfall of Rs.10.53 crore in this fund. The local body cited poor financial situation for not setting aside the requisite funds, auditors said.

The auditors found that a bank account for this purpose was set up only in November 2012. The contributions before that had gone to accounts set up for other purposes.

In the case of most of the other welfare schemes, the auditors withheld the amount spent due to lack of any details of the beneficiaries.

Unemployment wages

A total of Rs.61.34 lakh was distributed as unemployment wages in the year. But no wage distribution card or beneficiary list as stipulated by the Unemployment Wages Act of 1998 was made available to the auditors. The distribution register did not have the photograph or date of birth details of the beneficiaries either, which made it difficult to ascertain whether those who had crossed the age limit also received the benefit.

In the case of pensions for the differently abled, in addition to lack of details of the beneficiaries, there were no medical certificates.

For widow pension, there are no documents to prove that there was no remarriage. A total of Rs.11.37 crore was withheld under the heads of pensions in categories such as old age, widows, differently abled persons, and agricultural labourers.

Irregularities were found in a project to distribute catamarans and fishing nets to 260 beneficiaries in the Vizhinjam grama panchayat, auditors said. No documents were provided to prove that the beneficiaries belonged to the BPL category, for whom the project was meant for. The amount of Rs.8.85 lakh spent on this was withheld by the auditors.