iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Navneet Sharma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, August 27, 2013
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stopped the audit of land licences issued by the town and country planning department for development of colonies in Haryana just days before the deadline for submitting the draft report.
The auditors, who had started working on audit of land licences in March 2013 "as per directions of the CAG", were in the first week of June 2013 asked to abandon the exercise and take up audit of procurement and utilisation of pipes in the public health engineering department instead.

The directions came from the then additional deputy CAG (ADAI), northern region, just three weeks before the deadline of June 30, 2013, for submitting the draft paragraphs/thematic paragraphs, sources said.

"ADAI (NR) has desired that instead of thematic audit on issue of licences for development of colonies etc, thematic audit on procurement and utilisation of pipes and implementation of social welfare schemes may be taken up for the current year audit report," according to a communication sent by senior administrative officer (NR) Narinder Singh in the office of CAG to principal accountant general (audit), Haryana.

The audit team, which had been working on audit of land licences for three months to meet the June 30 deadline, was in final stages of inspection of relevant record and files when the change in the subject of thematic audit was communicated, according to sources. The time schedule for submitting the "draft paragraphs" to government agencies was also extended to July 31 while changing the audit themes. Hindustan Times on August 21 broke the story on the decision to stop the audit midway after the state authorities sought deferment on one ground or the other.

The audit was halted even as the state government has been under fire over its land licence raj. It has granted licences for development of 21,000-acre land during the past eight years.

While principal accountant general (audit) and his officers had in their letters to the town and country planning department from March 2013 repeatedly stated that the audit of land licences was being conducted "as per directions of the CAG", the decision to drop the theme has raised eyebrows.

When contacted, the then ADAI (NR) refused to discuss the issue. HT also sent detailed questions to official spokesperson of the CAG regarding stopping the exercise at such a late stage, but no response was received till the time of filing this report.

CAG officials had on Monday stated that principal accountant general, Haryana, had suggested five subjects for thematic paras for the audit report 2012-13 and since all topics were loaded towards land/building-related issues, it was decided not to include the topic of licences for development of colonies. As the audit report is expected to take up a variety of subjects, it was decided to include two topics, they said.