Officials eyed unspent RDPR money concealed from Centre

Officials eyed unspent RDPR money concealed from Centre

Rs 92 cr in bank other than that designated; more 'illegal' deposits likely

Officials eyed unspent RDPR money concealed from Centre

 The State government’s decision to conceal unspent funds meant for rural drinking water supply from the Centre appears to have provided an opportunity to the corrupt officials in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department to try misusing the money.

At the end of financial year 2011-12, various Zilla Panchayats (ZPs) had altogether Rs 92 crore meant for taking up rural water supply schemes.

The RDPR department, therefore, came up with a proposal to take back all these unspent funds and redisburse them among ZPs that really were in need of money for drinking water schemes, a source in the Finance Department (FD) said.

But there was a hitch: The Centre does not release fresh funds in the new financial year unless all the money is spent. So it was decided to report to the Centre that the funds released for rural drinking water in 2011-12 had been spent fully. An expenditure statement was prepared and submitted to the Centre saying that the money was spent, the sources said.

It was also decided not to deposit the unspent money in Syndicate Bank, which was the designated bank to handle rural drinking water funds. As per an agreement with the State and the Central governments, all transactions pertaining to rural water supply funds should be done in the designated bank branches. This was done to ensure proper monitoring of fund utilisation.

The unspent money was, instead, deposited in Andhra Bank, Gandhinagar branch. And, surprisingly, the money was not re-allotted in the last three and a half years, giving rise to suspicion that a few corrupt officials were planning to gobble up the entire money. The State Finance Department (FD) had given its consent to take back and re-allot the funds to ZPs on the condition that they should be spent before March 31, 2011-13. The RDPR had assured the FD that the unspent funds will be utilised for clearing pending bills in various ZPs, the sources said.

Preliminary report

A preliminary report submitted by the committee set up to look into the illegal money parking has revealed that the then RDPR Deputy Secretary Ramakrishna deposited Rs 92 crore in Andhra Bank. Now, the money has grown to Rs 134 crore with interest. It has now come to light that funds meant for rural development to the tune of Rs 525 crore have been illegally deposited in various banks, the sources added.

The government has now set up another committee to probe the issue. Except for suspending Ramakrishna, the government has so far not initiated any action in this regard. So much so that it has not retrieved Rs 134 crore from Andhra Bank. RDPR Minister H K Patil has claimed that the money has not been misused.

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