KOCHI: It started in 2013 and still continues. A group of state government officers seem to have found nothing amiss in running a 104-strong office to man a nonexistent central government programme for the past five years. Called the Kabani River Valley Project (KRVP), with not one but six offices in Wayanad, it started off initially as a central government project, but became defunct in 2013. From that point onwards, the project began running, fraudulently under the steam of state government and till date, it bled the state exchequer of Rs 25 crore.
The clueless state agriculture department has been thus footing the KRVP salary and establishment bill with the state annual budget allocating funds to the defunct project each year. When his attention was brought to this ongoing deception, State Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar told Express his department would immediately take appropriate action to redeploy all the staff of KRVP to other offices and wind up the project. It was in 1998 that the Centre sanctioned the project and till 2013, allocated funds to the tune of `32.05 crore.
Though the project began with complete central funding, over the due course of time, the Centre reduced its share to 90 per cent before it was finally called off on March 31, 2013. Pursuant to this, though the state government issued an order directing the Director, Soil Survey and Soil Conservation Department to close down the office and redeploy permanent staff to the parent department, the order was not complied with.
Official records, in possession with Express, reveal that even service rules were manipulated to give promotion to a section of officers in the month of September 2018, violating the order. In the order dated January 24, 2018, the then Principal Secretary had directed Director, Soil Survey and Soil Conservation Department that all temporary, contract and daily wage appointments if any made to such posts may be terminated with immediate effect and regular employees in such posts may be redeployed to the existing vacancies in the respective cadre. It also directed that the remaining regular employees may be accommodated against supernumerary posts to be created for the purpose to accommodate the existing officers.
What the Principal Sec’s order said The Principal Secretary’s order was in reply to a proposal submitted by Director of Soil Survey and Soil Conservation on February 20, 2017, a good four years after the completion of the Central project, on redeploying the 104 staff of KRVP. In the said proposal, the Director had admitted KRVP ceased to exist from March 31, 2013.
Agri Minister promises action
State Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar told Express his department would immediately take appropriate action to redeploy all the staff of KRVP to other offices and wind up the project.