N.J. Nair

Financial indiscipline in awarding civil works alleged

  • Panel's directions on recruitment ignored
  • Steep rise in establishment cost

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is feared to be heading towards a financial crisis owing to the unrestricted spending on various heads over the years. Financial indiscipline in awarding civil works and recruitments made in disregard to the directions of the high-power committee appointed by the High Court in 1990 have been cited as the main reasons that are feared to lead to the crisis.

    According to TDB sources, the budgetary allocation for civil works during 2005-06 was Rs.22 crore and Rs.24 crore in 2006-07. The board had sanctioned works to the tune of Rs.70 crore in 2005 and more than Rs.100 crore in 2006. Most of the works are understood to have been sanctioned without assessing the need and identifying the source of income for meeting the financial commitments, sources said.

    Rules have it that the contracts for civil works awarded should not exceed three times the budgetary allocation so that the excess can be met from the surplus amount in the budget. The budget surplus is inadequate to meet the liabilities incurred by the board during the past two years. Managing the funds in the coming years too would be a tough task. It is alleged that the works were awarded in blatant violation of all relevant rules.

    The undue haste shown in awarding works and sanctioning excess over the amounts quoted in the tenders on various grounds have given rise to complaints. Some of the works have been completed and the bills would be presented for payment soon.

    After completing one or two stages of certain works, contractors have submitted bills for part payment. Chances of the contractors relinquishing the remaining stages of such works cannot be ruled out, the sources said.

    If the establishment expense of the board was Rs.7 crore in 1990, it had shot up to Rs.37 crore in 2006-07. The high-power committee had said that both the TDB and the Cochin Devaswom Board were over-staffed.

    Contributions of devotees, yield from the landed properties owned by the board and Government contribution are the main sources of income.