John L. Paul
The functioning of the Ernakulam DTPC from 2019 to 2021 has come under scathing criticism in an audit report prepared by the Kerala State Audit Department.
It speaks of the DTPC taking key decisions during the period by forming a sub committee which comprised the then DTPC Secretary and the then Deputy Director of Kerala Tourism in charge of Ernakulam. The decisions were taken without the State Government’s permission, neither was the DTPC’s general body informed of them. They were not ratified at the level of the body’s executive committee either, says the audit report, a copy of which was accessed by The Hindu.
The report also cites a glaring omission – that the District Collector, who is the chairman of the DTPC, not being a member of the sub committee which took the decisions. Neither was his opinion or permission sought. All this is a grave default (by the DTPC) and steps must be taken so that decisions taken back then are reviewed by the executive committee and the general body, it says, and calls for cancelling all decisions that were taken during the period, which are against DTPC norms.
There is also a reference to file notes being incomplete and being at odds with the ground reality.
It elaborates about the mention of Rs 22 lakh being spent for installing CCTVs in Durbar Hall Ground, but not being mentioned in the agency’s annual accounts. A reconciliation statement of ‘PSTSB account’ is wrong and also refers to cancelled cheques and those not handed over to parties concerned.
The report further mentions the balance sheet of March 31, 2020, mentioning the availability of Rs 3.84 crore which does not co-relate with subsequent figures which mention Rs 5.70 crore worth of funds. Similarly, cash in hand was mentioned as Rs 9,046 but it was Rs 16.29 lakh as per the cash book. The contradictions extend to 2021.
In addition, cheque disbursal registers have vague references. The details of cheques which were drawn but not given to parties were not entered in the registers. Likewise, the project register was incomplete, while the assets register was not readied. The registers did not have details like the income expected and received from tourist centres and the dues.
It also faults the DTPC for not holding mandatory general body and executive committee meetings, although it is mandatory that the general body meet once every year and the executive committee every month. The audit report took note of the fact that the last general body was held in 2015.