The Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed unhappiness over the inaction of the State Government in recovering ` 17.05 crore in 1,815 misappropriation cases.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the PAC under the chairmanship of Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh. The PAC reviewed the action taken by the State Government on audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for 2006-07 of the Home Department.
The PAC chairman and other members expressed their concern over the delay in investigating charges of corruption against Home Department officials. Besides, no action has been taken against officials found guilty of misappropriating funds, the Leader of the Opposition said in a release issued here.
The PAC has asked the Home Department officials to engage special officials to dispose of such cases and collect the misappropriated funds.
Singh said the committee also expressed concern over lack of proper security system in prisons of the State. Because of the lax security system, 77 prisoners escaped from 43 jails between 2002 and 2007. The committee found that many equipment, including walki-talkies, cellphone jammers, CCTV cameras, metal detectors and generators have been lying defunct in many jails because of lack of proper maintenance. As a result, many avoidable incidents are taking place in different prisons, Singh said. Also Choudwar, Berhampur and Rourkela jails do not have watchtowers, he added. The committee members also expressed concern over the delay in disposing of cases in courts as a result of which the number of undertrials is increasing. The committee advised the State Government to take steps for early disposal of cases.
Singh said the committee also discussed the CAG’s comment on unhealthy conditions inside the jails. The departmental officials informed the committee that a provision of ` 2 crore had been made to improve sanitary conditions inside the jails.
The Leader of the Opposition alleged that the prisoners are not being paid minimum wages for their labour despite a directive from the Supreme Court in this regard. The committee also observed that mentally-disabled prisoners should be treated in hospitals or nursing homes as per a directive from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The commission had directed in October 1999 that mentally- disabled prisoners should not be kept in jails.
The committee also expressed concern over the delay in implementation of modernisation programme for police force.