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AG unearths fraud worth lakhs in Urban Development Agency

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OST Bureau

Bhubaneswar, Dec 6:

A fraud to the tune of lakhs in the name of training and exposure visit has been detected in State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) during an audit by the Accountant General (AG).

‘During the audit, it has it has come to notice that many outsiders have availed exposure visits whereas the rules allow only departmental officers to undertake

The AG, in a letter, has asked SUDA to take immediate action on the matter. But SUDA authorities have shown undue favour to a company approving its bill amount instead of initiating action against it, said sources in SUDA.

SUDA, which functions under the Urban Development department, organizes training and exposure visits for municipal employees and offers in the state. Hyderabad based Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) was entrusted with training and exposure activities in 2011-12 fiscal.

The ASCI had agreed to provide training and exposure to 1500 employees of 58 municipal bodies in the preliminary phase. A budgetary provision totaling Rs 1, 05, 00,790 was made with provision of Rs 6,350 per person for imparting training. However, the audit revealed that very few persons had been provided with training and exposure visit.

The audit report has revealed that while 819 elected representatives were invited for undertaking training, only 527 of them had participated in the training programme. Similarly, out of 560 municipal employees, only 281 had undertaken exposure visits.

Out of total 1,573 persons invited for undertaking training and exposure visit, only 893 had participated. If all those who undertook training and exposure visit is taken into account, the total amount stands at Rs 62, 58,144. However, the entire budgetary provision for the programme has been approved.

The audit report hints at a fraud to the tune of Rs 37, 53,000.  However, sources said the scam is of much bigger dimension.

What is significant is the firm had provided flight tickets to the then Urban Development minister and his family members for pleasure trips in the name of exposure visits in order to grab the entire budgetary provision, revealed a reliable source.

Even though there are provisions for releasing payment after submission of final report, SUDA authorities have released payment to the concerned firm much before it submitted the final report, said sources. Only a measly payment of Rs 5 lakh has been kept pending by SUDA authorities.

On the other hand, while there is a provision for levying a penalty of ten percent of the agreed amount in case of delay in providing training and exposure visits, no such penalty has been levied by SUDA authorities despite sufficient delay, the audit report said.