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Govt must be accountable
April, 08th 2010

Chief minister Sheila Dikshits outburst on Tuesday when she accused CAG of indulging in nit-picking has caused consternation among the rank and file of the organisation charged with the job of keeping an eye on wasteful government expenditure.

Speaking to Times City, senior officials observed that Dikshit was defending an establishment that spends a tenth of the citys total budget Rs 2,200 crore and earns just Rs 435 crore. Is that nit-picking? asked a highly placed CAG source, claiming that Haryana Roadways had bought AC buses for Rs 44.8 lakh while DTC had paid Rs 60 lakh.

The features were different, but there were things like automatic transmission and retarder that the Central Institute of Road Transport in Pune had clearly said were superfluous. Why was DTC paying for these features? the official questioned.

The source said that given the conditions in the city, buses here need speed governors whereas DTC was
essentially paying for features that enhance speed.

Dikshit had on Tuesday lashed out at the top auditor saying that they needed to take a holistic view of matters and have more trust. She had said instead of nit-picking on small issues, CAG should focus on bigger issues like grain being wasted in FCI godowns.

She was speaking at a panel discussion of various stakeholders of the audit organised by CAG. Accountant general (Delhi) Rajvir Singh refused to comment on the chief ministers statement.

Top officials in his office however quoted the then principal secretary (finance) having said that the bus prices should be revised from Rs 55 lakh for non-AC and Rs 60 lakh for AC if international steel prices come down. We checked with the steel ministry and found that steel prices had gone down 48% between the time the deal for the 2,500 buses was signed and when the buses were actually delivered. Yet the government did not do anything, said an official involved with the DTC audit.

The Rs 7,800 crore that the city government has cumulatively paid to DTC to keep it running comes from the taxpayer. The government is accountable for every paisa of it and if DTC is not doing due diligence while spending that money, it is our job to point it out, the source said. If the government is failing in its duty to ensure that the required number of fire stations come up and we point that out, how can the chief minister not take it in the right spirit?

The source said the chief ministers defence should have been a part of the governments reply and the action taken report instead of being articulated at a public forum. There is an established format for these things. The government has to send us its reply and the action taken report within six weeks and then it is discussed in the committee of government undertakings which can then give recommendations if it feels like it, he added.

 
 
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