The accountant general (AG) office, Gwalior, has severely indicted the MP State Eco Tourism Development Board (MPEDB) for carrying out works in forest areas without getting required permission, for not furnishing utilisation certificates of works claimed to have been completed by it and using its funds for carrying out activities not in consonance with its bye laws.
The documents, obtained by Ajay Dubey of Prayatna through Right To Information Act, point out that even though the union ministry of Environment and Forests had in May 2010 clarified that eco-tourism is a non-forestry activity and hence construction of permanent structure has been seen as a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, the MPEDB spent Rs 710.65 lakh between 2005-06 and 2011 on construction and no records of permission under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 were found with the documents.
The AG report has pointed out that the MPEDB received Rs 100 lakh from the forest department in 2010-11 out of which Rs 90.81 lakh were spent.
Of the amount spent, the AG report points out that Rs 20 lakh were spent on construction of stop dams at Tilak Sindur and Samardha which is against the bye laws of the MPEDB. Consequently, the AG has refused to accept the expenditure as valid.
The AG report says that the MPEDB spent Rs 107.14 lakh on various works across the state in 2011-12.
Some of these works were executed by the MPEDB while some were executed by concerned forest divisions. In these works, utilisation certificates have not been provided because of which the purpose of the works is not clear.
Ajay Dubey of Prayatna said that accountability of the concerned officers of the Board should be fixed. He also demanded that the forest officials, who allowed works to be carried out in forest areas without permission, be also punished.
“There are penal provisions in the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 in case non-forestry activity is carried out in forest area without seeking clearance,” he said.