Bhubaneswar: At a time when people are being motivated to go for online registration of their land records following the ‘Digital India’ campaign, it is surprising to see government show undue favours to a private company leading to losses of revenue worth crores of rupees and irregularities.
The state government selected Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), an e-registration company and handed over the contract for uploading the land records online without even floating a tender after a high level meeting on February 16, 2008.
It also selected Odisha Computer Application Centre (OCAC) to collaborate with IL&FS and design a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for capacity building and investment.
Around Rs 28 crore was budgeted for all hardware and software development and networking expenses necessary for the project while Rs 35 crore was also approved as extra expenditure and operational expenses scheduled to be spent over a time period of five years.
Besides, the government also approved Rs 8.27 crore to be spent for digitisation and scanning of legacy data of 13 years.
After six years, surprisingly, a CAG report on state revenue sector for 2014 stated irregularities in the dealings and expenditure of the digitisation project. It stated that the government intentionally wasted Rs 8.27 crore of funds meant for digitisation and scanning which was not necessary since legacy data was already available at 14 District Sub-Registrars (DSR)s, in which online computer registration was up to date from 2003 to 2009. Besides, the audit reports also pointed out that the government had to bear losses to the tune of Rs 7.17 crore due to faulty e-registration processes in 4257 cases across the state.
Asked about the issue, Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty said he has directed Inspector General of Registration (IGR) to submit the detail audit reports of the CAG. “After looking into the details of the report I will be able to comment on the issue,” he said.
On the other hand the opposition has lashed at the ruling party for its inefficacy which led to losses of such huge proportion. "This is just the tip of the iceberg. I think there may be much more other aspects in the scam and definitely the scam is bigger than Rs 8 crore," BJP State General Secretary Prithiviraj Harichandan said.
"Since CAG itself has stated that people of the state have been duped through this scam, we urge Chief Minister to direct a high level probe into the case," he added.
Congress alleged that the losses indicated by the CAG could have been avoided but there is a secret alliance of the duping company with the government. Opposition Chief Whip Tara Bahinipati said “Only the third floor of Assembly knows what is wrong. ”