The Comptroller and Auditor General has hauled up the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh for spending much more than the initially sanctioned amounts on construction activities at the Chief Minister’s two dream parks, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Parivartan Sthal and Kanshiram Smarak Sthal, in Lucknow.
In a report tabled in the UP assembly on Friday, CAG also said that it was unable to ascertain the “correctness” of the expenditure made on erecting statues at these two parks. A total amount of Rs 287.56 crore were spent on the statues alone. The auditor said that it could not find any “standard rates” to compare the expense with.
The report also highlighted that Rs 15 crore were wasted in transporting stone blocks used in the memorials from Lucknow to Rajasthan and back. An avoidable expenditure of more than Rs 22 crore was also incurred by revising the contracts.
Apart from the high cost of erecting statues, the CAG report says the Mayawati government overshot the early estimates by a huge margin. The two parks were originally meant to be built at a cost of Rs 881.22 crore. But there were frequent changes in drawings and estimates. New construction work was introduced. The total sanctioned cost of the project was revised at Rs 2451.93 crore as on December 31, 2009. In actual terms, the government released Rs 2261.19 crore between November 2007 and December 2009.
CAG also found anomalies in the payments to architects appointed by the Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited. For the construction of Indira Gandhi Pratishthan and Dr Ram Manohar National Law Institute, the government appointed Sikka Associates and Civil Consultants. By March 2009, the report said, the state government had paid the architects Rs 1.95 crore, nearly Rs 20 lakh more than they should have. In March 2010, the CAG demanded a response from the state government. However, till the time the report was compiled, no response was received.
According to CAG, the state government incurred an expense of Rs 66.48 crore for beautification work undertaken at the two parks, which was much more than the amount sanctioned for the purpose. Further anomalies were also discovered in the construction of boundary walls and laying of floors in the memorial parks. Instead of cutting and sawing the sandstone from where it was procured in Mirzapur, blocks were transported, instead, to Bayana in Rajasthan. Afterwards, the finished blocks were brought back to Lucknow.
CAG observed, “We are of the view that if sawing and carving of stone was done at Mirzapur-Chunar itself by engaging cutters there and transporting finished stones to Lucknow (315 km), expenditure on transportation could have been reduced by Rs 15.6 crore.”
In December 2010, however, the government said that Mirzapur was a Naxalite-affected district because of which the stone industry had not thrived in the region. As a result, the government was forced to send the blocks to Rajasthan for cutting and sawing. The government’s response, however, failed to cut ice with the CAG, which observed, “The response of the state government is not satisfactory because the local cutting and sawing industry has prospered in Mirzapur. This suggests that the state government did not make efforts to find the right vendors.” Economic Times