Remaining confined to official order


In order to mitigate the hardships being faced by the people living in the vicinity of International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) due to shelling and firing by the Pakistani rangers, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 2017 accorded sanction to the construction of 13029 individual and 1431 community bunkers in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts at a cost of Rs 415.75 croreunder Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme. The much-needed physical and financial audit of thousands of community and individual bunkers in border areas of Jammu and Kashmir has remained confined to the official order as Government has failed to place necessary manpower at the disposal of the Auditor-cum-Investigating Officer. Though after initial hiccups the construction of bunkers in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts picked up momentum yet the same was not up to the expectations of the Government. Moreover, no significant progress has so far been made in Rajouri and Poonch districts because of increased cost of construction and lack of response to the repeated tenders floated by the Roads and Buildings Department.
In Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, some bunkers either developed cracks within short span of their construction or got filled with underground water thereby rendering them not fit for use by the border dwellers. It was specifically mentioned in the order that officer shall conduct an in-depth investigation and furnish a detailed report to the Finance Department enumerating the reasons behind the slow pace of construction of bunkers in the border areas even when the Ministry of Home Affairs has already sanctioned Rs 415.75 crore. A time-frame of 20 days was fixed for the officer to furnish the report but astonishingly it was not mentioned in the order as to who will assist him in this detailed exercise and due to non-placement of team of officers at his disposal the Audit-cum-Investigating Officer could not initiate even one step towards implementing the order of the Government till date.
The physical and financial audit of large number of bunkers is a daunting task and cannot be looked after single-handedly by any officer of the State administration and it is a matter of concern that this aspect was not kept in mind by the Finance Department at the time of issuance of the order for audit. Even Home Department can be held responsible for delay in start of audit as being the Nodal Agency for utilization of funds under Security Related Expenditure it should have spared some officers from the department for rendering assistance to Audit-cum-Investigating Officer and unless the physical and financial audit is completed in a time bound manner the Government would not be in a position to ascertain the reasons behind slow pace of work and in such situation border dwellers would be the sufferers.

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