CAG smells a rat in SJTA acc, seeks audit

Bhubaneswar: With the mega festival Nabakalebar barely a month away, the letter of Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) seeking audit of the Jagannath temple accounts has put the State government in a spot as it is already racing against time to complete the infrastructural development work in Puri before the grand event.

Principal accountant-general Amar Patnaik today wrote a letter in this regard to chief secretary G.C. Pati asking him to allow the audit of income and expenditure accounts of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) from 2009 to 2015.

In the letter, Patnaik has clarified that the accounts of the grand festival must be covered under the audit since it involved sizeable flow of funds from various sources including the Centre.

Patnaik mentioned that besides sanctioning Rs 47.4 crore towards temple expenses including rituals and festivals between 2009 and 2014, the State government has allocated Rs 30 crore for Nabakalebar festival.

Besides, the State government has also failed to implement the Jagannath temple rules by not appointing an official to audit temple account every year which is mentioned in Section 27 of Sri Jagannath Temple Act-1955, the letter pointed out.

Since the temple accounts have remained unaudited for years, the State government should appoint the CAG as auditor, as mentioned in Section 15-1 of the Act, Patnaik said in his letter.

However, the temple administration has shown unwillingness to concede to such a request from CAG. SJTA chief administrator Suresh Mohapatra said since the government machinery is fully occupied with preparations for the grand event, it would not be possible for them to co-operate in the audit work.

He, however, said that the temple administration is ready for audit after the festival, i.e. in mid-June.