Bhubaneswar, Sep 10:
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has strongly criticised the Odisha government for gross misuse of the helicopter services meant for anti-Maoist operations. In its report, the CAG has stated that the helicopters ostensibly hired for anti-Maoist operations have instead been used by VVIPs.
It may be noted that all Security Related Expenditure (SRE) in the Maoist affected areas are borne by the Centre. While expressing its inability to supply helicopters, the Centre has given permission to the Odisha government to hire helicopters to carry out anti-Maoist operations and has agreed to bear the rental expenses incurred.
Of the 30 districts of the state, about 22 districts are Maoist affected while the Centre has included 17 districts under SRE.
With the permission from the Union Home ministry, the state Home department had hired one MI-172 Pawan Hans helicopter in August 2011 for three months till December incurring expenses of Rs 1.56 crore, including service tax with a 30-hour monthly flight. Later, the contract was extended till June 2012.
But due to non-availability of the helicopter from January to March 2012, the state government had hired a Dufferin helicopter at a cost of Rs 66.10 lakh with a 20-hour monthly flight.
While the contract was for a minimum of 217 hours and 10 minutes of flight for the two helicopters, they were used only for 143 hours and 55 minutes till March 31, 2012. As a result, the Centre had to pay Rs 1 crore even though there was no flight for 23 hours and 35 minutes due to wrong calculation of the state Home department, the report has pointed out.
Quoting the statement of the Home department, the CAG report said while the department had claimed that it had used the helicopter for 193 hours and 55 minutes for anti-Maoist operations, the fact remains that the total hours used for the purpose was 143 hours and 55 minutes.
The remaining 49 hours and 40 minutes have been used for the National SC and ST Commission and the State Election Commission (6 hours 50 minutes) with an expenditure of Rs 24.91 crore and in the relief work (42 hours and 50 minutes) with an expenditure of Rs 2.46 crore, which the Home department had asked the Special Relief Commissioner to pay the dues from its relief fund, the report has revealed.
The report has also stated that as against the actual payment of Rs 9, 30, 35,200, excess payment of Rs 77,652 has been made.
The CAG report has also said that the state government neither floated any tenders for hiring the Pawan Hans helicopter and nor collected information regarding the rent charged by other private agencies. Besides, the state government had no information on the rent being paid by other state governments, the report pointed out.