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Srijan scam fall out: MLAs’ local area accounts under lens to check fund diversion

Closer monitoring revealed many accounts opened in the name of legislators for local area development were operating even after a legislator had lost election and ceased to be legislator or had died.

patna Updated: Sep 03, 2017 19:28 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
Srijan fallout,Closer scrutiny,Local area funds
Deputy CM Sushil Modi confirmed districts had been asked to give report on the status of government accounts. (HT file photo)

The unearthing of the multi croreSrijan scam in Bhagalpur district of south eastern Bihar has prompted the authorities to focus closer attention on the funds at the disposal of legislators to recommend projects in their respective areas under the chief minister’s area development scheme (CMADS).

Closer monitoring of such funds has revealed many accounts opened in the name of legislators for local area development were still operating even after the said legislator had lost election and ceased to be legislator or has died.

Considering legislators get Rs 2 crore annually to recommend development projects in their respective areas, the money at stake in the local area development funds is huge..

The special investigation team ( SIT), which initially probed the Srijan scam, which involved fraudulent transfer of government funds worth an estimated Rs 1,300 crore to the account of Srijan, an NGO, has revealed cheques used to make the illegal transfers were not account payee cheques and had mention of the account number on back of the cheques.

“This was a big folly on the part of the district officials and bank officials. Had the banks taken cognisance of the discrepancy in the cheques, the scam would have got unearthed much earlier,” said a senior police officer, engaged in the investigations.

He also highlighted how district officials were unaware of the number of government accounts in each block and district, leaving room for manipulation of government funds. In districts, separate accounts are opened for various schemes and in many cases, the these accounts operate only for one financial year.

Such schemes include the chief minister bicycle scheme and the school girls’ uniform scheme, The same is the case with the accounts in which the MLA funds are lodged.

“Some accounts detected stand in the names of MLAs, who have ceased to remain a legislator after losing polls or have died. This is not the right practice as it may lead to diversion of funds. This is why corrective measures are likely to be taken,” said a senior officer in the finance department.

He said some accounts were detected wherein money lying unused for a long time, leaving room for embezzlement of funds.

Confirming this, deputy chief minister cum finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi told HT the government was accessing the operational system of all government accounts, including the CMADS funds. He said the districts had been asked to give a detailed report on the status of government accounts.

“ We have received the reports from 12-13 districts and more districts are sending the status update of the accounts. Once it is received, we will take new steps to tone up the financial administration,” he said.

The state government has also formed a committee headed by chief secretary to study the operationalisation of government accounts at the district and lower level so that any loopholes in the financial transaction, including practices like diversion of funds from government accounts to private accounts could be plugged.

“In districts, there is need for professional fiscal management instead of giving full fiscal power to DMs and other administrative officials. This would ensure timely detection of fraud,” said another police officer, engaged in investigation of the Srijan scam.

Modi also said that measures had been taken to ensure that traders and businessmen registered under GST filed their first return this month under the GST law. “ Our priority is on compliance with the GST norms. We will also take necessary steps for smooth implementation of the e-way bill for easy movement of goods flowing into the state from different parts of the country,” he said.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 19:28 IST