Govt clueless why RDPR funds were routed to banks

Minister says money is safe, promises action against the guilty

Govt clueless why RDPR funds were routed to banks

Eight months have passed since the shocking revelation of huge amount of public funds, meant for rural water supply and sanitation, being unauthorisedly deposited in various banks. But the State government has, so far, neither retrieved the money nor has it taken any step to bring the guilty to book.

A preliminary enquiry has revealed that money to the tune of Rs 525 crore in the State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RD&PR) Department was illegally deposited in various bank accounts since 2011.

Except for suspending an officer of Deputy Secretary rank and ordering a departmental probe, the government has done nothing to unravel the truth.
Surprisingly, the government is still clueless on the motive behind the act.

The government appears to be reluctant to act in this regard right from Day One. The illegal money parking in various bank accounts came to light in August 2014 after the then Commissioner (in-charge) of Karnataka Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Manish Moudgil set up a three-member committee on August 16 to look into the illegality, sources in the RDPR Department said.

Preliminary report

The preliminary report submitted by the committee revealed that the then Deputy Secretary Ramakrishna had unauthorisedly deposited Rs 92 crore meant for rural water supply in Andhra Bank, Gandhinagar branch, in March 2011. By August 2014, the money had grown to Rs 134 crore with interest.

The committee found that the money is not shown in the cash book, nor was it accounted in the balance sheet. It reported that Ramakrishna refused to cooperate during investigation. The committee also indicated that more money may have been parked in other banks, the sources added.

The six-page, interim report was submitted to the then Additional Chief Secretary to RDPR department T M Vijay Bhaskar on September 30, 2014 with recommendations to immediately shift the officer from the post, retrieve the money and order a detailed investigation. But the department turned a blind eye on the report, the sources said.
Sources said, the commissioner, in November 2014, brought the issue to the notice of Finance department and sought its guidance on the issue.

The commissioner divested Ramakrishna of his power to handle the finances of the Rural Water Supply department. The same was vested with the then Chief Financial Advisor Vasanti.

But the Finance department, too, chose to remain silent on the issue. Surprisingly, the government subsequently not only transferred both the commissioner and the chief financial advisor, but it also restored financial powers with Ramakrishna, sources added.

Action taken
Later, when the government realised that more funds were unauthorisedly parked in a similar manner in other banks like Corporation Bank and Syndicate Bank, State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj  Minister H K Patil, in February, this year, took action and suspended Ramakrishna. Though he announced that a Lokayukta probe will be ordered, a proposal in this regard has been pending in the chief minister’s office for the last four months, sources said.

Patil told reporters on Tuesday that the money is safe and nobody has withdrawn it, so far.

“We are safeguarding the money. There is a possibility of involvement of bank officials in the issue. So, the money has not been retrieved. It is not clear why such huge amount of money was deposited in banks unauthorisedly. A committee has been set up by the department to probe the illegality. The government will take appropriate action based on the report,” he added.

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