The Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) conducted by the Tourism Department in 2011-12 had incurred a loss of Rs.44.58 crore as the scheme was launched without any specific guidelines, the Comptroller and Auditor General has said.

Briefing reporters about the CAG Report on economic sector, Accountant-General Biju Jacob said that the festival was launched for transforming the State into a hub for international shopping experience within five years and also to promote the State’s trade and industrial sectors.

In the absence of specific guidelines, the festival director diverted Rs.5.47 crore out an allotment of Rs.10 crore for meeting the festival expenses and the balance was deposited in current fixed deposit. There was an interest loss of Rs.14.53 lakh. The event management agencies expended Rs.40.60 crore during the five seasons without furnishing any supporting documents.

Mercantile establishments were the main participants. Maximum number of coupons issued as part of the festival were purchased either by textile dealers or jewellers and the State-specific industries and products like spices, cashew and marine products, handloom and handicrafts had not participated actively. The registration of the mercantile establishments was much below the targets set. Substantial number of coupons remained unsold in all seasons, except season five, which was indicative of the lack of interest of the shoppers in the festival, the report said.

The CAG has recommended a Vigilance inquiry into the irregularities in the supply of drinking water in Chittoor taluk in Palakad. In the wake of the drought, the tahsildar of Chittoor taluk awarded the supply of drinking water in tanker lorries with a capacity of 12,000 litres. The audit team found that the officer had paid Rs.3.89 crore to the contractor and on verifying the details of the vehicles used for supplying water, it was found that the registration numbers of three vehicles mentioned as lorries were actually motorbikes and one was a car. The officers concerned had claimed that 1,031 trips were arranged in the three vehicles and 424 trips in the car, which were all mentioned as lorries.

The bills and the trip sheets furnished by the village officer did not have the mandatory certification of local body authorities. The tahsildar endorsed the documents without joint verification and the CAG has recommended a vigilance probe. This was only a tip of the iceberg and such instances might be recurring all over the State, Mr. Biju said.

Vizhinjam wharf

A newly constructed wharf at Vizhinjam port for Rs.8.87 crore could not be used due to structural defects and lack of infrastructure facilities like compound wall, transit shed and storage facilities, among others. A technical committee appointed by the government has recommended rectification measures worth Rs.87 lakh to strengthen the wharf. The structural defects pointed to the lack of supervision.

More In: Kerala | National