The Comptroller and Auditor-General’s special audit of the tenure of Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka in the Haryana State Warehousing Corporation (HSWC) has had an unexpected fallout.
The controversial audit initiated by the CAG on the “special” request of the previous Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government has delayed its audit report on the state public sector undertakings (PSUs) for the year 2012-13.
The audit report on boards and corporations was scheduled to be tabled in the Haryana assembly, along with three other audit reports on the social, general and economic sectors, revenue sector and the state finances, in March 2014.
However, it is held up for the past 10 months due to the delay in concluding the special audit of purchase of galvalume roofing sheets for godowns during Khemka’s tenure as managing director of HSWC.
Last month, the auditors held the ‘exit conference’ - a crucial meeting to discuss the findings and clarify doubts before the office of CAG finalises its report - with officials of the state agriculture department.
Though there were indications at one stage that Khemka, who is presently the state transport commissioner, would also be asked to attend the exit conference, he was not present in the conference. “The special audit report is being finalised now. It would be tabled in the coming budget session of the state assembly in all probability along with audit reports for 2013-14,” an official told HT, admitting the delay. When contacted, principal accountant general (audit), Haryana, Mahua Pal declined to comment.
The federal auditor had started the special audit after the then Hooda government, rattled by the IAS officer’s decision to cancel the mutation of a land deal between DLF and Robert Vadra, businessman son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, had in November 2013 made the request for the special audit on the complaint of a Panchkula resident.
The complainant had alleged irregularities in the purchase of galvalume sheets worth Rs 8 crore by the HSWC from a Gujarat firm for roofing food storage godowns in 2009, accusing Khemka, who was its managing director from July 2008 to April 2010, of not obtaining the required approvals before getting the work executed.
However, Khemka had categorically refuted all the charges, alleging attempts to malign his image after he exposed wrongdoings in land deals and seed purchase.
In a letter to the office of CAG last January, he wrote that the trussless galvalume sheets he got installed in 2009 were meant to replace the conventional asbestos cement roofing sheets, which were not only expensive, but also declared deleterious to health by the World Health Organisation.
Besides, three years after he introduced these sheets in Haryana, the Food Corporation of India had also in May 2013 made their use mandatory in new constructed and hired godowns for grain storage.
Later, the IAS officer had also accused the agriculture department, which has the administrative control over the HSWC, of suppressing facts from the auditors.