The public accounts committee (PAC) of the Maharashtra legislature on Saturday criticised the state home department for scrapping four Sealegs amphibious boats, bought from a New Zealand company to beef up coastal security after the 26/11 terror attacks, because authorities had failed to maintain them.
The committee has recommended action against the officials responsible for the poor maintenance that led to a loss of Rs1.94 crore to the state.
A report by PAC, the legislative watchdog, has stated that the boats were bought in November 2009 and their maintenance warranty expired a year after. Following this, the government failed to appoint an agency to maintain the boats, it said.
According to the report, when the police asked the government for permission to sign an annual maintenance contract (AMC) with the supplier [NZ firm] in 2010, the permission came only in 2013. By then, the supplier refused the AMC, owing to the reduced value of the rupee then. For the want of maintenance and the non-availability of spare parts for the boats, the police could not use them for patrolling the city’s coast after January 2011.
“ The average lifespan of the boats is 8 to 9 years, but the police asked for permission in just a couple of years. The home secretary informed us that spending Rs75 lakh on the repairs of the boats that cost about Rs50 lakh each was not practical and hence they decided to scrap them. In fact, the department tried to run them by replacing the parts, which was a faulty practice. The delay in getting the AMC done and the home department’s failure to appoint a senior officer for the maintenance of the boats has resulted in the loss,” the report, which was tabled in the assembly on Friday, stated.
The report has directed the government to fix the responsibility of delay in getting the AMC done along with the failure of appointing a dedicated officer for maintenance, and take action.
The committee has also rapped the government for its failure to spend the Centre’s fund of Rs7.05 crore allotted to the construction of operational rooms in the coastal areas of the state for patrolling.
PAC chairman and senior Congress MLA Gopaldas Agarwal, said that the committee expects the government to comply with the recommendations.