Friday, April 21, 2017

MCG in dock over plantation drive spend

Times of India‎‎: Gurgaon: Friday, April 21, 2017.
An RTI reply has revealed MCG has failed to give an explanation to the Haryana accountant general's query on the Rs 1.7 crore spent on plantation drive in the Aravalis over eight months of 2013-14.
According to the reply, MCG spent Rs 59.52 lakh on food for labourers. The RTI reply also revealed other norms were violated while carrying out the drive, in which about 2 lakh trees were planted.
The response in Hindi states, "It's been found that Rs 1,70,65,326 was spent in just 8 months (from December 2013 to August 2014) by MCG to plant 2,12,182 trees in Ghata, Gwalpahari and Sikanderpur villages. Most of these areas come under forest department, but MCG didn't seek permission from it before carrying out the drive."
The response was provided by Principal Accountant General (Audit) Haryana, who demanded that the amount spent on plantation drives to be regularised. "It was an unnecessary expense. Few plants survived. I'm glad the accountant general has asked MCG to either recover the amount from the department which has jurisdiction over the land, or charge concerned MCG officials," said Aseem Takyar, who filed the RTI.
TOI visited the area and found only around 10% of trees planted survived. Locals said trees planted during the drive died within 3-4 months. "There was frequent movement of labourers in the area in then. They planted many saplings., mostly of fruit but few such plants can survive here," said Ram Prakash of Sikanderpur.
Activist Vivek Kamboj, who had asked MCG to stop the drive in 2013-14, alleged it was an attempt at siphoning public money. "Departments like forestry, soil and water conservation have better expertise to carry out such drives, while MCG fails to even deliver services under its jurisdiction. The plantation drive was carried out just to syphon public money," he said.