RDPR funds parked in banks at behest of minister's secretary

RDPR funds parked in banks at behest of minister's secretary

RDPR funds parked in banks at behest of minister's secretary

Amidst all the hullabaloo in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department over the unauthorised parking of taxpayers’ money in banks, it has now surfaced that the office of RDPR Minister H K Patil had recommended depositing about Rs 115 crore received from the Centre for rural drinking water supply schemes in six different banks, including rural ones.

The sanction for depositing  money in these banks was given in two separate orders – Rs 70 crore in March 2014 and Rs 45 crore in March 2015. The then Additional Chief Secretary to RDPR , T M Vijay Bhaskar, had given his approval for depositing money through written orders, copies of which are available with Deccan Herald. The officer had, in one of these orders dated March 25, 2014, noted that the instruction to deposit the money in the banks was received from a personal secretary to the RDPR minister. But he had not mentioned the name the person.

According to a three-member committee headed by IPS officer Punati Sridhar, set up look into unauthorised parking of funds in RDPR, depositing funds meant for a scheme in more than one bank account is against the rule book. The committee has dug out a whopping Rs 1,335.89 crore parked irregularly in 1,128 bank accounts of the RDPR. Ironically, the final report was released by Minister Patil recently.

The money deposited in banks, as recommended by a personal secretary to the RDPR minister, is part of Rs 225 crore that the department received from the Centre between 2012 and 2015 as the 13th Finance Commission grants for implementing multi-village scheme (MVS) and installing water purification plants (WPPs).

The money was kept in 12 different banks, including six recommended by the minister’s personal secretary.

Though the Sridhar committee has mentioned in its report that the funds meant for MVS and WPPs have been “illegally” parked in 12 different banks and recommended that action should be initiated against the officials concerned, it is silent on who gave the sanction for opening bank accounts. It is also not clear whether the minister’s personal secretary was acting at somebody’s behest or he had any personal interest .

All the departments have to obtain specific approval of the government to deposit money in bank accounts, as per an order dated April 4, 2014, issued by the Finance Department on handling the Finance Commission grants. The RDPR department, too, had in its circular dated May 9, 2000, stated that there had to be only one bank account for a scheme.

When contacted, Vijay Bhaskar declined to comment. He, however, did not deny he had given the approval. He is now the chairman of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The names of the six banks and amount sanctioned for depositing are: Canara Bank, Lavelle Road branch, Bengaluru – Rs 20 crore; Syndicate Bank, Dharwad – Rs 20 crore; Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank, Dharwad – Rs 30 crore; Corporation Bank, SCM Branch, Hubballi – Rs 5 crore; Pragati Krishna Grameena Bank, Gandhinagar, Ballari – Rs 25 crore; Cauvery Grameena Bank – Rs 15 crore.

Factfile
*Rs 115 crore deposited in 6 accounts as per his recommendation
*Money part of Rs 225 crore given by Centre for multi-village scheme
*Rs 1,335.89 crore parked unauthorisedly in 1,128 accounts: Panel

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