Delhi’s poor would have got shelter had the money meant for the purpose not gone into buying cars. In blatant misuse of government funds, a Delhi government-run organisation bought staff cars with money allotted to build houses for poor. The anomaly was revealed in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s report on social sector for the year ended March 2012.
“The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), an implementing agency for Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) projects, had purchased eight staff cars for `27.82 lakh out of the funds received by it for housing projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM),” said the CAG report. The DUSIB works in the area of providing houses at affordable costs to slum dwellers of the capital. Its estimates state that 47.36 lakh persons reside in about four lakh hutments scattered in 685 clusters in the national capital.
Omesh Sehgal, former chief secretary of Delhi, said the purchase of cars with funds meant for constructing houses for slum dwellers is “an absolute misuse of authority and funds.” He said that there is more or less a ban on the purchase of staff cars. Replacement of such cars is done only with permission of the finance department. Government officers use authorities under control of the government, like the DUSIB, in order to do away with the need for taking permission of the finance department.
A former senior officer on condition of anonymity said, “Ministers are entitled to one car, but they use up to 10 to 15. This is done by procuring cars from the budget of various bodies and boards formed by the government. If one needs a truck, dumper or operational vehicles required for construction purpose, there is no ban on procuring those, as they come under ‘operational vehicles’ category. Generally, senior officers who are entitled to only one government car, arrange cars from various boards and use them.”
He further said that misuse of funds is just the tip of the iceberg. Money from the funds, meant for some other purpose, is also spent on repair charges, insurance, drivers on contract and maintenance.
The Sunday Standard