A team of five officials from the comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) office reached the Ghaziabad development authority (GDA) and sought project details after the state government gave the go-ahead for a CAG audit of the authority.
The previous state government of Samajwadi Party (SP) had locked horns with UP governor and the Central government last year over allowing a CAG audit of GDA. Last June, a team had started an audit but it was discontinued on the ground that there was no clearance from the state government.
“The CAG team has arrived. We are trying to provide an office for them to work. They will also be provided with staff to assist them in daily operations. They have also asked for project details, which we are compiling. Last year, they were given a list of projects undertaken by the authority but a fresh list will be provided now,” Ravindra Godbole, secretary of GDA, said.
On February 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his election rally at Ghaziabad, had targeted GDA for alleged ‘land scams’ and said that he would ensure a CAG audit of all development authorities, including GDA, if the BJP was elected.
Even last week, a team of CAG officials had approached GDA for conducting an audit but the officials had refused them on the same grounds.
However, in a complete turnaround of the decision, the state officials on April 7 sent a fresh government order to GDA and stated the provisions of a June 1985 government order that allowed for a CAG audit to be conducted.
The June 1985 states that agencies/development authorities getting grant/loan of Rs1 crore or above, in a financial year, from the Consolidated Funds of State will have to get their accounts audited by CAG.
“The auditors will conduct random checks of the project they feel should be scrutinized. A fresh list of projects is being provided to them by the engineering department,” Godbole said.
Official sources said that the provision implies that the majority of GDA projects such as the elevated road, metro, flyovers, underpasses and road projects will fall under the ambit of a CAG audit, as most of the projects undertaken by the authority cost well over the limit of Rs1 crore.
Apart from carrying out checks on procedures, utilisation of funds and progress of projects, the CAG may also scrutinize the terms of contracts, agencies and contractors to whom the projects have been awarded.