While Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa had imposed an austerity cut on buying of new vehicles by the government departments, the home department headed by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal bought what it pleased and how.
The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India tabled in the state assembly on Tuesday points out that 352 vehicles worth Rs. 23 crore were purchased in contravention of rules.
Punjab Police have a fleet of 3,134 vehicles, out of which excess were placed at the headquarters and many distributed unevenly to districts, while Rs. 8.57 crore was spent on installing a “non-functional” global positioning system (GPS) in police vehicles and control rooms.
In the audit of the procurement, operation and maintenance of records of director general of police (DGP) and seven senior superintendents of police (SSPs) and one police commissioner (Ludhiana), it came out that instead of forming a departmental standing purchase committee as directed by the government, the DGP (Sumedh Singh Saini) had formed a new purchase committee on six occasions and purchased 352 vehicles worth more than Rs. 23 crore.
“The DGP is delegated the power to purchase equipment not available on rate contract with the Controller of Stores, Punjab; DGS&D (Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals), New Delhi; or DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) through a departmental standing purchase committee.
But he formed a new purchase committee that did not have a mandatory technical expert. The purchase of 216 vehicles (150 Mahindra Scorpio Getaways and 66 Mahindra Xylos) worth Rs. 15.3 crore was finalised on two occasions without the presence of representatives of the Controller of Stores. On five occasions, 87 vehicles (65 Toyota Innovas and 22 Chevrolet Taveras) valuing Rs. 6.52 crore were not on the DGS&D contract and purchased on open market without the tendering process. The DGP did not furnish any justification for deviation from the laid down procedure for procuring vehicles,” says the CAG report.
The report also highlights the kind of vehicles the police department spent on. “While the state was short of prisoner vans (inmates were carried to and from courts in ordinary vehicles), seven more ambulances were purchased between 2010 and 2013. Regarding non-procurement of prisoner vans, the DGP stated that these were not on the DGS&D rate contract. The reply is not acceptable as the DGP is fully authorised to procure vehicles through tenders from the open market,” the CAG report adds.
MORE VEHICLES FOR HEADQUARTERS
The police headquarters held 157 vehicles (78 cars, 68 jeeps and 11 trucks) in excess of authorisation, whereas the district police were short of 120 vehicles. The DGP attributed the excess vehicles at the headquarters to the “sensitive nature of duty” and shortage in field to the “lack of funds”.
Some SSPs had a total of 223 excess vehicles, while others were short of 500. While 18 SSPs had not enough jeeps, nine had these vehicles in excess. Three SSPs required ambulances, while 12 had extra fleet. Eight SSPs had more motorcycles that needed, while 18 were short.
“The reasons the DGP office gave are unacceptable. Authorisation should have been revised with the approval of competent authority,” says the report.
Punjab Police wasted crores of rupees for ensuring “accountable working”. In September 2009, the DGP approved Rs. 11.5 crore for GPS at six control rooms. The implementation was entrusted to Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) that awarded the installation work to HCL Infosys.
“The service provider was to install 605 GPS devices in vehicles and one each at six chosen locations. PPHC constructed these control rooms at a cost of Rs. 2.56 crore and HCL supplied equipment worth Rs. 6 crore. But 97 units remained uninstalled and their warranty lapsed. The PPHC failed to pay rent for those installed after March 2012 and HCL withdrew its service, rendering the entire Rs. 8.57-crore system non-functional,” says the CAG report.
VEHICLES DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF DRIVERS
The audit report points out shortage of drivers, citing the sanctioned posts in district police to be 927 against 1,893 vehicles as on March 2013. It has also shows the highway patrol vehicles to be ill-equipped for life-saving and rescue; and that the offices of the SSPs had not procured the mandatory pollution-control certificates for the vehicles.