JAMMU : Contrary to the claims of the successive regimes about the successful implementation of flagship scheme Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in J&K UT had not carried out house-to-house survey to identify beneficiaries for providing Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs) under the centrally sponsored scheme. Further, the progress of work was also not closely monitored and no monitoring reports were on record.
This has been revealed in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Compliance Audit report. Pertinently, Compliance audit of two components under SBM-Urban (U) viz. Individual IHHLs and Public Toilets (PTs) were carried out covering the period from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
The report stated that the scheme guidelines stipulate that the construction of IHHL should be undertaken by the household itself. The guidelines did not provide for construction of IHHLs through contractors or Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) but the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) authorised engagement of NGOs and contractors for construction of IHHLs for identified beneficiaries to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) targets.
“The erstwhile State Government had empanelled various NGOs for construction of new IHHLs at a cost of Rs 17,490 per unit. In the terms and conditions of orders issued for engagement of NGOs for construction of IHHLs it was stipulated that the construction work be closely monitored by the engineering staff of the concerned ULB to ensure that execution of work was as per approved specifications prescribed in the scheme guidelines”, CAG report said.
“Payment in respect of IHHL constructed by an NGO was to be made in stages only after completion certificate is furnished by the concerned beneficiary. Audit however, noticed that stage wise documentary evidence regarding construction of IHHL to be produced by the NGOs and certified by engineering staff of ULBs for making payment in stages of construction of IHHL were not specified, which led to irregularities”, it added.
The report further said an amount to the tune of 19.87 crore was paid to NGOs in 20 ULBs for construction of 12,297 IHHLs for identified beneficiaries. Audit noticed that IHHLs constructed by NGOs for beneficiaries were not closely monitored to see whether work was executed as per approved specifications as no monitoring reports were on record.
Instead of making payment in stages as envisaged in empanelment and allotment orders, the payments were made to NGOs in lump sum. The photographic evidence in support of having closely monitored the physical progress of construction work in stages was not kept on record.
“In Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), an audit noticed that the actual site of construction of IHHLs by NGOs was not mentioned in records in respect of 339 beneficiaries. As per records 331 beneficiaries had addresses of locations falling outside the jurisdiction of JMC and eight beneficiaries had addresses of other states.
The Director Finance, H&UDD stated (August 2022) that re-verification had been initiated by a committee constituted for the purpose and that if any ineligible beneficiary was found the recovery proceedings would be initiated.
These lapses on the part of ULB authorities cast doubt over genuineness of construction of IHHLs by NGOs, as well as over the genuineness of expenditure incurred on these constructions. Doubtful construction of IHHLs by NGOs was also corroborated by physical verification and beneficiary survey as discussed”, CAG report said.
Beneficiary survey and physical verification of selected 942 IHHLs constructed by NGOs revealed that only 95 (10 per cent) were functional. Further, doubtful payment of Rs 116.48 lakh was made to NGOs in respect of construction of IHHLs and there was unproductive expenditure of Rs 91.30 lakh in respect of 522 IHHLs. Out of 173 physically verified PTs, 108 PTs (63 per cent) were either incomplete, abandoned or non-functional.
The Government of India (GoI) launched the flagship scheme of SBM (U) on 2nd October 2014 with the objective of making urban India 100 per cent free from open defecation in areas falling under the Urban Local Bodies in the country by October 2019. SBM, Urban (U) is being implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India (MoH&UA) and Housing and Urban Development (H&UDD), Government of Jammu and Kashmir.