Special Correspondent

`Estimate of Rs. 2,371 crore is inflated'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found irregularities, including diversion of funds, in the relief and rehabilitation of the 2004 tsunami victims.

The CAG report for the year ended March 31, 2006, tabled in the Assembly on Thursday, said that the Government's estimate of Rs.2,371.03 crore as the funds needed for relief and rehabilitation of tsunami victims and rehabilitation of infrastructure was inflated and arbitrary. The Government had also diverted Rs.11.41 crore received under the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Package for meeting the committed liabilities of the Fisheries Department. Out of the Rs.13.85 crore released to Matsyafed for disbursement of assistance to fishermen community for losses/damages of craft, outboard motors, etc., only Rs.11.44 crore were spent and the balance of Rs.2.41 crore was retained by Matsyafed without utilisation.

The State Government allotted Rs.13.07 crore to the Harbour Engineering Department for repair and rectification of fishing harbours and fish landing centres, but the department spent only Rs.4.63 crore for the purpose. Out of the 4,053 houses that were supposed to be constructed, only 2,476 houses were constructed and handed over to the beneficiaries till March, 2006. The Government was spending Rs.15.77 lakh every month to provide dole to the remaining families. This would have to continue till they were provided permanent houses, the CAG pointed out.

The CAG also found that the non-revision of the list of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families might have resulted in omission of eligible families and continuation of ineligible families in the list. It said that 3.66 lakh metric tonnes of food grains intended for BPL families had lapsed, as these were not lifted.

There was low off-take of food grains meant for Above Poverty Line (APL) families as well. This ranged from 0.3 per cent to 4.7 per cent of the quantity of rice allotted for the State and from 18.98 per cent to 58 per cent in respect of wheat.

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