Tag Archives: CAG

CAG indicts Department of Space for delay in oprationalising NavIC

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delh: The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has indicted the Department of Space and ISRO for failure to operationalise NavIC that was to be operational by December 2011 but had not been made operational even at the end of June 2017 and as a result, navigation and timing services envisaged under the programme could not be provided to the users.

Inquiry by Newsroom24x7 has further established that even till date, ISRO is lagging far behind in making NavIC fully operational. The conclusion drawn by CAG validates investigative reports focusing on the same subject by Newsroom24x7 (check: Desi GPS: Space Application Centre lacks priority at great cost to the nation; Department of Space and ISRO: PMO has to bell the cat)

The 2018 CAG report on Department of Space (Report No. 2 of 2018) that has now been presented in Parliament goes on to underscore “Though the space segment has been completed, NavIC remained non-operational due to non-completion of Ground segment and User segment. There were delays in realisation of key components under the programme which led to idling of the satellites. As the life of a navigational satellite is 10 to 12 years and the satellites already launched under the programme remained idle for 14 months to four years, delay in realisation of the NavIC programme would limit the duration of their utility once the programme became operational. In addition, ground segment infrastructure created for the NavIC satellites also remained unutilised.

NavIC was approved by the Government of India in May 2006 at a cost of Rs. 1,420 crore to establish an independent and indigenous satellite based navigation system over the Indian landmass and surrounding region. An expenditure of Rs. 1,283.93 crore had been incurred on the programme so far. However, the system has yet to be operationalised due to delays in execution of contracts, deficient monitoring of programme and inadequate follow up. In addition, Rs. 3.57 crore were spent on unnecessary procurement of modems.

CAG Report No 2 of 2018 Chapter VII Department of Space

CAG has concluded “NavIC that was to be operational by December 2011 was not made operational even at the end of June 2017 due to which position, navigation and timing services envisaged under the programme could not be provided to the users. Though the space segment has been completed, NavIC remained non-operational due to noncompletion of Ground segment and User segment.

NavIC
Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an initiative of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space (DOS), to build an independent satellite navigation system to provide Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services over a Primary Service Area (PSA) comprising of India and its surrounding region extending up to 1,500 km.

NavIC consists of a space segment, ground segment and user segment. The space segment comprises of a constellation of seven satellites (IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS1C, IRNSS-1D, IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1F and IRNSS-1G) which were launched between July 2013 and April 2016. The ground segment is responsible for maintenance and operation of the NavIC constellation. The user segment comprises frequency user receivers capable of receiving NAVIC signals.

Government of India accorded (May 2006) financial sanction of Rs. 1,420 crore for NavIC. As of March 2017, expenditure of Rs. 1,283.93 crore had been incurred under the programme. In addition, expenditure of Rs. 1,162.21 crore was incurred on launch vehicles and maintenance of the satellites and the ground segment.

Non-operationalisation of NavIC programme
The development and deployment of NavIC constellation, ground infrastructure, navigation, safety and certification, verification software was expected to be completed within five to six years from the date of approval of the project i.e. by December 2011. However, the NavIC programme was not operational as of June 2017 due to delays in realisation of various segments.

Delay in realisation of user devices development programme
ISRO identified (October 2004/ April 2006) development of user receivers as a critical technology component of the programme. The Cabinet sanctioned Rs. 200 crore for the development of critical technologies including user receivers.

Department of Space told CAG (September 2016) that development of the user segment was the responsibility of the user. The reply is not tenable as ISRO was required to develop critical technologies for the user receiver devices as approved by the Cabinet. The reply also contradicts the fact that the ISRO has eventually taken up the user development programme in March 2017.

Non-completion of performance evaluation
As per the approval of the Cabinet, certification of NavIC was required to be done in order to provide seamless continuous PNT service to users. At its meeting held on 11 August 2009, the Project Management Board recorded that the characteristics of the user receivers have to be sent to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as per the regulations. The Project Management Council, in its meeting held in April 2016, stated that performance evaluation of IRNSS in the PSA was required to be evaluated in the Indian land mass and in places outside India within the PSA before
NavIC could be declared as operational. Audit noticed that certification and validation of the NavIC programme including performance evaluation was not done as of September 2016. ISRO stated (September 2016) that evaluation and validation of NavIC was in progress.

One year of Modi Rule: People’s confidence has been restored by facing the challenges confronting the nation

Lalit Shastri

Union Minister for Mines and Steel Narendra Singh Tomar addressing a press conference to mark the completion of one year of the NDA government, in Bhopal on June 08, 2015. Minister of State for Mines and Steel Vishnu Deo Sai is also seen.
Union Minister for Mines and Steel Narendra Singh Tomar addressing a press conference to mark the completion of one year of the NDA government, in Bhopal on 8 June 2015. Minister of State for Mines and Steel Vishnu Deo Sai is also seen.

Bhopal: Union Minister for Mines and Steel Narendra Singh Tomar today said when the new Government came to power in New Delhi on 26 May 2014, the country was confronted with diverse problems, including a tottering economy and a series of scams, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted these challenges and within a year he has succeeded in restoring people’s confidence in the Government by ensuring speedy and transparent decisions and firm steps to combat the scourge of corruption.

Tomar was addressing a press conference here to mark the completion of one year of the NDA government on Monday. Giving a panoramic view of the overall scenario, he said that under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the Centre-State relations have improved and the states are now enjoying more power. Our relations with neighburing countries and also with other countries have improved, he said adding India’s, GDP from 5% last year, has now gone up to 7.4%. Similarly the inflation rate has also come down from 10% last year to 5 % this year.

At the Prime Minister’s initiative, Tomar said, the Black Money Bill was introduced and passed by both Houses of Parliament and the Special Investigation Team (SIT) is in place to combat black money. The Minister brought under spotlight the CAG conclusion that the exchequer suffered a loss of Rs. 1,76000 crore in coal allocation and emphasised the the fact that this amount is much less than the loss in real terms. To explain the point, Tomar said that with the auction of just 34 of the 204 coal allocations cancelled, Rs. 2,00,000 crore have been raised. Even in the spectrum acution a revenue of Rs. 1,10,000 crore has been generated.

Tomar underscored the amendments to the Mining and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act and said that illegal mining now has higher penalties up to 5 lakh rupees and imprisonment up to 5 years. Regarding the Farm sector, he said that adequate relief is now guaranteed to farmers suffering damage to their standing crops due to natural calamities. Now the compensation for crop damage due to natural calamity will be assessed on the basis of crop damage of 33% and not 50%, he pointed out.

The Minister said that the Prime Minister’s Rural Road project will be carried forward and 50,000 kilomters of new tar roads are planned to be constructed to connect villages. The priority is also to expand the irrgation capacity to cover every piece of agriculture land in the country.

Tomar drew attention to the Jan Dhan scheme launched by Prime Minister Modi to provide bank accounts to the poor and how 15 million bank accounts with a deposit of Rs. 15000 crore, have been opened under this scheme.

The Minister said that 50 crore people in India are working in the unorganised sector. For them the smart card scheme has been introduced. He also threw light on the ambitious Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna.

On the mining front, Tomar said that the Centre has not been discriminatory towards any state and pointed out that all the states are going to benefit from the hike in mining royalty. To eliminate corruption and bring accountability, the only route for mineral allocation now will be e-auction. In India, there is mining potential in 8,00,000 square kilometers but miningis being done only on 1% of this area. hence a Mineral Exploration Fund is is being set up for exploration purpose.

The Steel Ministry plays the role of coordination. Spelling out the target, he said Steel Authority of India (SAIL) now produces 13 million tonnes of Steel and by September this year the capacity will increase to 23 million tonnes. The target is to touch 50 million tonnes by 2025.

Income Tax Department rolling out new Business Application to improve efficiency

Newsroom24x7 Desk

income taxNew Delhi: The Income Tax Department currently is in the process of touching another level in the area of computerisation of office management replacing the existing ITD application with the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) and the first phase of the replacement process will be completed in April 2015.

Income Tax department has been confronting roadblocks with its present business application particularly when it comes to ensuring accuracy of Manpower Management System (MMS) and Assessee Information System AIS and in order to achieve “correct hierarchy” the ITD is rolling out the new Income Tax Department Business Application (ITBA)

The ITD Business Application used till now by the department was restricted to assessment functions and its access IDs were available only to the assessment and the assessment monitoring officers. ITBA will have a broader usage and has been designed for the entire gamut of functions that include appeals, HR management, administration and examination. The application is designed to enure all functions of ITBA are available on a single interface and accessible with a just one sign in to work on any module of ITBA. The access privileges, however would be based on the designation of officers and the departmental hierarchy.

The Income Tax department has found that in the present application there are major inaccuracies in the flagging of old AO codes and enabling of refund banker. It has been identified that AO with active PAN has been flagged as old, while old AOs were not being flagged as old and there were thousands of cases were refund banker is not enabled for “AO without old flag” and vice versa.

Newsroom24x7 has found that directions have been issued today by the Income tax department across the country to ensure that the request for enabling refund banker for all current Assessing Officers is sent to DIT s-2 latest by March 23 on topmost priority. The Income Tax Commissioners have also been asked to get the AIS heirarchy corrected before March 25. This is a prerequiste for the ITBA to go live.

Computerisation in Income Tax Department

With a view to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Direct Taxes administration and to create a database on its various aspects, a Comprehensive Computerisation programme was approved by the Government in October 1993. In accordance with the programme omputerisation was taken up on a three-tier system. At the apex level, a National Computer Centre (NCC) having large computers to maintain databases and to execute processing work of a global nature was envisaged.At the second level, 36 Regional Computer Centres (RCCs) were to beestablished across the country equipped with large computers to maintain regional databases and to cater to regional processing needs. All the RCCs were to be connected to the NCC through high speed data communication lines. At the third level, computers were to be installed in the rooms of all the assessing officers and connected with the respective RCC for data/information exchange, in a phased manner. Accordingly, in the first phase, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai City regions were taken up and provided with state-of-the-art hardware and software connected with the RCC through inter-city and intra-city linkages. After stabilising of the computer systems in the 3 RCCs, computerisation of 33 other centres covering the rest of the country was taken up in the second phase.

The Directorate of Income Tax (Systems) [DIT(S)], New Delhi, was made the main nodal authority for overall planning and implementation of the computerisation programme including procurement of hardware/ software and development/ installation of application software. In addition, at each Regional Computer Centre the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT) was required to monitor and co-ordinate with the DIT(S).

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had censured the Income tax department in the year 2000 for lapses on several counts when it audited the computerirsation programme. CAG came to the conclusion in the initial staged that The conceptual plan finalised for computerisation in the Income Tax Department at the very outset grossly underestimated database sizing. The plan restricted itself to three major cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and failed to consider issues of expansion to 33 other centres. The plan also did not visualise the need for centralised PAN database.

None of the tenders, invited for procurement of hardwares matched the desired specifications and found to be under configured. Though the Systems requirements specification, required to be prepared before procurement of hardwares, was not finalised, the department placed the order in July 1994 on TISL for procurement of hardwares costing Rs.1990 lakh without re-tendering.

Transparency in Public Purchase

Lalit Shastri

 Mostly the system remains shrouded and the government working remains under wraps as long as there is no disgruntled element, someone who has been rubbed the wrong way by his superiors or co-workers, who ends up spilling the beans. Even when that happens, the entire government machinery becomes a cohesive unit and officers at each level become instrumental in creating a protective shield to protect the guilty, the wayward and the dishonest. Even when complaints are filed, FIRs get lodged, either the relatively junior officers get accused or the complaints get restricted to leveling charges of irregularities or non-compliance of rules leading to financial loss. One rarely sees officers down the line being accused of conspiracy and siphoning money from the exchequer.

As a journalist, first covering the state of Madhya Pradesh for The Hindu for almost 18 years and The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle for more than 4 years, I have had the advantage of seeing the government working from close quarters. Before the enactment of the Right to Information Act, governments at the Centre and in the states have been accountable to Parliament and the state legislatures. Then we have the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as the apex audit agency and the pointers from the CAG based on random surveys are major eye openers. The media has also been playing its role as a watchdog unearthing and exposing corruption related scams—both big and small.

While the RTI is a monumental step forward towards ensuring accountability and transparency (to some extent) but the law as it stands today when it comes to guaranteeing people’s right to have access to a whole gamut of information including that relating to public procurement or government purchases does not wholly insulate the system from the malaise of corruption. It is another matter that proposals have been mooted to take away much from the present reach of the CIC. It is also debatable whether or not those from the judiciary should have primacy over others when it comes to appointment as Information Commissioners or during the course of hearing appeals under RTI Act.

Babus in Madhya Pradesh

The case of a Rs. 12, 000 crore claim pending before a sole Arbitrator

Case of Dewas Udyog, an industrial unit originally valued at Rs. 58.24 lakh owned by Madhya Pradesh State Industries Corporation Limited (MPSIC), which was handed over to a private Indore based business house on the basis of a 20-year management contract in 1998. State government departments had been issued letters by MPSIC to give Dewas Udyog preferential treatment in purchase matters.

Some bureaucrats in Madhya Pradesh apparently devised methods to abuse the process of the court to bleed the exchequer and extend huge financial benefits to business houses. This got amply reflected by the case of Dewas Udyog, an industrial unit originally valued at Rs. 58.24 lakh owned by Madhya Pradesh State Industries Corporation Limited (MPSIC), which was handed over to a private Indore based business house on the basis of a 20-year management contract in 1998.

In the Dewas Udyog case, which came up before a sole arbitrator appointed by the Supreme Court, Bhagwati enterprises, the proprietary firm managing this unit, filed a claim demanding Rs. 12000 crore. This case become more complicated as the state government passed a “deed of assignment” on April 30, 2011 to acquire all 16 industrial units owned by MPSIC. This despite the fact that Bhagwati Enterprises’ 20-year management agreement was still valid when the deed if assignment was issued.

The state government ordered transfer of Dewas Udyog from MPSIC to Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam (MPLUN) in 2002. Bhagwati Enterprises challenged the state government order in an Indore court, where MPLUN took the stand that the managing director of MPSIC was the arbitrator under an arbitration clause and hence the court had no jurisdiction in this case. Since the Indore court accepted this plea, Bhagwati Enterprises went to High Court, which set aside the Indore court order.

The state Government contested the High Court order in Supreme Court and when the apex court was seized of the matter, state Industries commissioner V.K. Semwal gave consent to a proposal by Bhagwati Enterprises to appoint retired judge P.C. Agrawal as arbitrator on August 5, 2010. Immediately thereafter, On August 31, 2010 Bhagwati Enterprises filed an application in Supreme Court to include “other disputes” in this case. During the course of hearing, the state Government took a u-turn and surrendered its position by giving consent for appointment of an arbitrator and also did not oppose enlargement of scope of this case. In this situation, the Supreme Court passed an order on January 13, 2011 appointing Justice Agrawal as the sole arbitrator in this case. In the meanwhile, Justice Agrawal had awarded a compensation of Rs. 16.50 crore to Bhagwati Enterprises in a case against the state Irrigation department. This was contested by the state government in High Court, which passed an order saying the arbitrator was not “fair and just” to have proceeded in this matter.

Inquiry has revealed how many state government departments had been issued letters by MPSIC to give Dewas Udyog preferential treatment in purchase matters. In a later development it has also come to light that since Bhagwati Enterprises had been using MPSIC letter-heads, a decision has been taken to file an FIR against the business house. The state government  also filed a petition in Supreme Court contesting Justice Agrawal’s appointment as arbitrator in this case since he had been censured by the High Court in another matter.

Government insiders point out that only a thorough inquiry would expose those in the government who delayed the filing of FIR and were instrumental in leaking classified documents and protecting the interests of the business group involved in this case.

In 2010, a retired High Court judge appointed arbitrator by an order of the High Court had ordered the state electricity Board to pay a compensation of Rs. 205 crore to Shubham Agency of Indore. This company and Bhagwati Enterprises have a common director. Fresh probe in this matter at the state government level drew a blank as the case in now shrouded in secrecy.

CAG: ATIR Report (Urban Local Bodies & Panchayati Raj Institutions), Madhya Pradesh For the Year 2009-10. The expenditure of Rs. 51.29 lakh incurred on procurement of office furniture and computers without establishing the sub divisional offices by Zila Panchayat, Khargone, was injudicious.

According to Rule 9 (ii) of Madhya Pradesh Finance code Vol.-I:

Expenditure should not be prima facie more than the occasion’s demands.

Government of Madhya Pradesh Panchayat and Rural Development Department decided (May 2008) to establish an intermediate sub-divisional level office to supervise, monitor and guide 10-12 Gram Panchayats and to maintain better co-ordination between Gram Panchayats and Janpad Panchayats of the area out of funds received for National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. These offices would be headed by Janpad Level Extension officers.

The expenditure on establishment of such office could be incurred on building rent, purchase of furniture, stationary, computer, telecommunication devices and drinking water subject to the limit of four percent of scheme fund prescribed for administrative charges.

Scrutiny of the records of Zila Panchayat, Khargone (September 2010) revealed that Zila Panchayat (ZP) decided (May 2008) to establish 43 sub-divisional offices in the district. For operation of proposed sub divisional offices, furniture and computers worth Rs. 51.29 lakh were procured from MPLUN and DG&SD in June 2008 and issued to all nine Janpad Panchayats including Zila Panchayat (July to December 2008) so far (August 2010) as shown in Appendix -XVI. During test check of records of Janpad Panchayats of Bhikangaon, Kesrawad, Maheswar (September 2010) of Khargone district it was observed that neither any sub divisional office was established nor

progress was made in this regard. Thus, the expenditure of Rs.51.29 lakh incurred on procurement of office furniture and computers was without establishment of sub divisional office in the district which was contrary to the Rule-9 (ii) of M.P.F.C Vol. -I.

On being pointed out in audit (September 2010) the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Zila Panchayat Khargone stated that an office order to open the sub-divisional offices had been issued to all Janpads and the progress would be reported to audit later on. It was however stated in March 2011 that

Government of Madhya Pradesh had not sanctioned the posts of Janpad level extension officers and after obtaining sanction of the posts, the sub-divisional offices would be established. Thus the expenditure of Rs. 51.29 lakh incurred on procurement of office furniture and computers without sanction and availability of the staff for formation of sub divisional offices was injudicious and contrary to the Rule-9 (ii) of M.P.F.C. Vol.-I and was against the standards of financial propriety. It has also come to light that Social audit is not being conducted by gram sabhas (village general bodies).