Mrunal Manmay Dash

The audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (Performance and Compliance Audit) for the year ended March 2020, Government of Odisha revealed massive irregularities in “Assessment of Plantation Activities” covering the period from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

The report revealed shortfall in achievement of plantation targets ranging from 11.98 per cent to 50.89 per cent during the period from 2013-14 to 2017-18 indicating fixation of unrealistic targets.

Not only that, the Forest department has also incurred unfruitful expenditure worth Rs 13.17 crore as 191 out of 485 plantations were not successful.

A joint physical verification including representative team from forest division was conducted to confirm the existence and to assess survival of the bamboo plantation at Baghdangar Protected Reserve Forest (PRF). The officials of the forest division could not identify even a single planted bamboo to audit and the site was a failed plantation.

Although planting of seedlings was actually not taken up in the Aided Natural Regeneration (ANR) without gap plantation but the cost norm provided for watch and ward during the entire regeneration period of four years. This inappropriate provision led to avoidable expenditure of Rs 63.19 crore.

Though the various components of plantation works of Block plantations and Urban plantations were similar, the provision of man days for urban plantations was fixed unreasonably higher which led to avoidable extra expenditure of Rs 39.80 crore.

Irregular allotment of funds for fencing and 3rd year maintenance under Urban Tree Plantation led to irregular expenditure of Rs 14.82 crore.

Contrary to the Finance Department order, the Forest department allowed 15 per cent supervision charges of Rs 42.15 crore on the value of a work against the admissible rate of 10 per cent ( Rs 23.58 crore) which led to excess payment liability of Rs 18.57 crore.

Moreover, as per the CAG, 191 plantation projects out of the 475 are complete failures.