The central government funds used by Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) to procure machinery for its Industrial Development Facility Centre (IDFC) seem to have gone down the drain, since the machinery is gathering dust at IDFC at Industrial Area Phase 1 here for more than two years.
The machinery worth around Rs 80 lakh was purchased from the Centre's grant-in-aid for setting up a testing laboratory facility for small-scale industrial (SSI) units in the region, with an aim to inject a new lease of life in IDFC, which was otherwise running into heavy losses since 1992.
Interestingly, IDFC continues to suffer heavy losses annually due to non-utilisation of the said machinery for the simple reason that IDFC does not possess accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), which as per norms is mandatory for running a testing laboratory.
Ironically, authorities did not bother to apply for accreditation for more than two years after installation of the machinery.
According to a senior official, the department applied for accreditation only on June 22, 2012, and that too after they received an RTI application seeking information on the status of NABL accreditation.
Sources maintained that the IDFC did not fulfill the requirements for getting accreditation from NABL. Besides other issues, the IDFC allegedly did not have sufficient staff with necessary education, training, technical knowledge and experience for carrying out mechanical testing work.
When contacted, CITCO managing director DK Tewari maintained that the delay in getting NABL accreditation was due to technical reasons. "The process involves a lot of paper work and inspections. This year, we are hopeful of getting the accreditation," said Tewari.
The equipment was purchased from seven suppliers based in Aurangabad, Bangalore, Pune, New Delhi, Mumbai, Faridabad and Chandigarh. There has been a substantial delay in the installation of machinery, some parts of which were installed around a year after the date of receipt from the suppliers.
'Hot potato' issue
CITCO Progressive Worker Union has been at loggerheads with authorities over the manner in which the machinery was purchased.
The union had lodged a complaint with Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) at New Delhi in July 2011, alleging irregularities in the purchase and inspection of the equipment for the IDFC. The complaint was forwarded to the UT administration, but no action was taken. The union had again approached the CVC last year, alleging inaction on part of the UT chief vigilance officer and demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in the matter.