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CAG raps MEA for 'inefficient' management of properties

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has rapped the Ministry of External Affairs for ‘inefficient' management of its properties across the world that has cost the exchequer several crores.Criticizing the 'Global
PTI August 10, 2014 14:39 IST
New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has rapped the Ministry of External Affairs for ‘inefficient' management of its properties across the world that has cost the exchequer several crores.

Criticizing the 'Global Estate Management' by the MEA, the CAG, in its latest report, said, "Properties were purchased or developed without assessing the basic requirement and purpose of their acquisition."

This, the auditor said, led to blocking of funds with consequential avoidable expenditure.

"The financial implication on this account amounted to Rs 41.47 crore on rents during one year only i.e. 2011-12 besides other incidental expenses of Rs 54.20 crore," it said.

In March 2011, the MEA decided to purchase a property belonging to French Government for establishing India Culture Centre at Paris.

The architect, who was engaged by the Indian Mission to design the building, reported on March 28, 2011 that the building was not suitable to be used as a cultural centre as under French regulations, the building required two exits and provision for assembly of a minimum 100 people.

The opinion of another architect was obtained who also raised the red flag on same grounds as his predecessor.

"The reports of these architects were ignored and the property was purchased in March 2011 for Rs 30.03 crore. The audit noted that the property was not utilized during three years after its purchase. Further, the Mission had incurred a recurring expenditure of Rs 1.24 crore per year on providing round-the-clock security to the building," the report said.

The Ministry had stated in March this year that the property would require certain modifications/renovation or even total demolition and reconstruction to make it suitable for a cultural centre. A final approval would be sought by the appointed architect-consultant, it had said.

"The fact remains that the entire investment amounting to Rs 30.03 crore was unfruitful besides recurring expenditure of Rs 1.24 crore per annum on security," the CAG said.

Another case of ‘inefficiencies in construction/project management' was under the High Commission of India in Port of Spain, Trinidab and Tobago.

The government there had handed over land measuring 5 acres to the IHC in 1994 for construction of culture centre for Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation.

"Despite the approval of concept design in 1999, the work of construction of the centre and residences for the MGICC staff was yet to commence," it said, adding that the estimated cost had gone up by 251 per cent from Rs 14.78 crore in September 2000 to Rs 37.41 crore in September 2010.

In China, a plot of land was acquired by the Indian Consulate in January 2007 in Shanghai.

"Fact remains that after more than six years of acquisition of plots, construction was yet to be started. Delay in construction resulted in rental outgo of Rs 2.47 crore during April 2011 to March 2012," the CAG report said.

There are a total of 180 Missions/Posts under the Ministry.

"Even after several reminders, information in regard to 157 Missions/Posts only was provided by the Ministry," it added.

The absence of basic information in regard to properties managed by the Ministry indicates a gap in the monitoring by it, the report said.

"Further, this information is essential for preparation of budgetary estimates and also planning of estate management function. The absence of information indicates lack of a systematic approach towards reduction of rental liability as assured to PAC (Public Accounts Committee)," it said.