While the district health department has been facing a vigilance inquiry into the alleged misuse of funds, an audit team has raised objections on the non-utilisation of Rs 51.6 lakh, earmarked under various health programmes under the National Health Mission (NHM).
The audit team has noted that non-utilisation of funds has resulted in the denial of benefits to the people under the NHM programme as funds were given by the government as per the demand of district.
The amount was sanctioned under the programmes like the Mata Kaushalya Scheme (MKS) (at present, this programme does not exist), non-scalpel vasectomy week (NSV), National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and iodine deficiency programme.
In its report, procured by the Hindustan Times under Right to Information Act 2005 from the civil surgeon’s office, the audit squad claimed that NHM programme was launched to provide accessible, affordable, accountable, effective and feasible health facilities in the rural and urban areas. It stated during the scrutiny of records, it was noticed that during the period from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016, a sum of Rs 51.6 lakh was available with the department but remained unspent.
It included Rs 49.7 lakh under the MKS, Rs 3,900 for the NSV week, Rs 1.4 lakh in the NCCP and Rs 45,650 for iodine programme.
Not only this, the audit team had also pointed out that Rs 26.6 lakh, earned through interest on the NHM funds in the bank, also remained unutilised in the bank, in contravention of the guidelines.
It further detected as per guidelines of the department, funds are to be kept in an interest-bearing account and the interest occurred on the funds is to be treated as a grants-in-aid and utilised for the purpose for which these funds were earmarked. The instructions in this regard to all offices were given by the department in its letter issued on December 15, 2010.
The local officials stated that matter would be referred to the higher authorities to sort the issue. The audit was conducted from April 15 to April 26 by an inspection team in the local office. It submitted its report with the civil surgeon office on May 23.
Civil surgeon Dr Rajiv Bhalla said, the department has replied to higher officials over objections pointed out by the audit.
It is pertinent to mention here that Sanjeev Kumar, district accounts officer (DAO) in the civil surgeon’s office here, who had been quizzed by vigilance sleuths in the probe, was transferred from here to Fazilka district in the first week of this month. The vigilance probe was initiated in February after the director general of police (DGP, vigilance) received a complaint about irregularities in the purchase of electronic equipment and other items by the health department.