Delhi CM orders CAG audit of Jal Board over misappropriation of funds allegation
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Delhi unit had last week alleged corruption in the allocation of works for the upgradation of Delhi Jal Board’s ten sewage treatment plants while demanding a probe by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday that he has directed the audit of the Delhi Jal Board by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG ) to ascertain whether there have been any irregularities amid allegations of misappropriation of funds in the water utility of the capital.
Kejriwal said that an audit covering the last 15 years will be undertaken by CAG. “We have ordered a CAG audit of the last 15 years of records of the Delhi Jal Board. CAG is a third-party and the biggest agency in the country. Things will become clearer now.” “...If someone has committed irregularities, they should be punished. If no irregularities have been committed, then those who level baseless allegations will get to know,” he added.
He said that the audit will be carried out in accordance with Section 69, DJB Act and Section 19(3), CAG (Duties, Power and Conditions of Services) Act.
Speaking to the reporters, Kejriwal further said that there could be a water and sewage crisis in the coming days owing to the non-release of funds.
Delhi water minister Atishi said that the finance department has raised concerns regarding financial mismanagement, but has not pointed out specific instances of alleged improprieties or errant officials which is what makes a CAG audit essential.
The decision to undertake the audit comes in the wake of a series of allegations of corruption. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Delhi unit had last week alleged corruption in the allocation of works for the upgradation of Delhi Jal Board’s ten sewage treatment plants while demanding a probe by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva had also written to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena requesting him to order an investigation into the matter.
The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party have been sparring over alleged irregularities in the Delhi Jal Board since last month.
DJB is also undergoing a financial crisis with the government alleging that the finance department has not released the second instalment of grant in aid for the agency.
Last week, the DJB had informed the Delhi high court that it had submitted a final annual account report for three years (from 2015 to 2018) with the national auditor, as prescribed under the law, and to direct CAG to conduct an audit of the board following Delhi BJP leader’s petition seeking sought direction to DJB.
However, the annual accounts for 2018-21 are yet to be audited by the CAG or the Accountant General.
DJB had also informed the court that to expedite the entire process in a time-bound manner, it will appoint a nodal officer for supervision of work of Annual Accounts, adding that the observations of CAG “will be replied as early as possible and preferably within three months after receiving the same”.
The finance department had argued that Rs.1,598 crore was released to the Jal Board in June earlier this year and further funds will be released based on evidence of the progress of works and geotagging to ensure that public funds are not being misappropriated.