Moolah for mutts in excess of govt guidelines:CAG report

Grants to religious institutions exceeded by Rs 52.75 crore

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found fault with the Karnataka government for not following its own guidelines on regulation of grants to religious institutions.

The report of the supreme audit institution on general and social sector for the year ended March 2012 tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday points out that the grants to religious institutions (eight muzrai temples, 28 private temples and 23 mutts) exceeded by Rs 52.75 crore.

The report says that these institutions were entitled to an aggregate grant of Rs 19.3 crore according to the norms stipulated by the government whereas the actual releases amounted to Rs 72.05 crore.

Apart from the largesse, the government went out of way in leasing out 1.31 sq lakh feet of land to 52 religious institutions without inviting offers from the public or conducting auction.

“There was no effort on the part of the government to obtain detailed market information before fixing the rates for the leases,” the report states.

Prime land measuring 2,55,205 sq ft in Bangalore and another 5.25 acre in Devanahalli belong to eight institutions  valued at Rs 204 crore remained unexploited. Besides, 836 acres owned by 3,105 religious institutions had been encroached upon.

Decline in forest cover

The report on economic sector states that forest cover in the State shrunk by 797 sq km between 2001 and 2011 in sharp contrast to an overall increase in forest and tree cover in the country.

The report states that as many as 24 districts registered negative growth with a loss of forest cover ranging from 12 sq km to 208 sq km during the period. More strikingly, dense forest cover in the State declined by 16 per cent to 21,956 sq km from 26,156 sq km with a corresponding increase in open forest area partially.

The CAG has pointed out that conservation measures taken by the government were inadequate or were not effective in preventing further decline of forest cover.
Interestingly, the forest cover has declined in spite of large-scale afforestation measures taken up by the State government between 2002 and 2012. Afforestation was carried out in 5.9 lakh hectares and 50.3 crore saplings were raised under various schemes and programmes.

Forest land encroached

The report points out that 67,096 hectares of forest land encroached upon had not been evacuated as of March 2012.  It notes that the government has not finalised its forest policy even afrter six years of recommendation by the National Forest Commission.

Final notifications of five sanctuaries were not issued even after 21 years to 38 years of issue of preliminary notification, the report says.

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