Bungling in Kupwara Flood Relief: Govt Seeks Fresh Report

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Srinagar, Nov 07: Months after the inquiry team probing the alleged financial bungling through ‘fictitious repair works’ by then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, the state government has sought re- verification of the works.
Sources privy to the case revealed that the incumbent Deputy Commissioner of the frontier district has been asked to go for the ‘random’ inspection of the sites where the works are shown to have been executed in 2010.
The case was reportedly reopened after contractors who claim to have executed the works renewed their demands for release of 3 crore rupees which they claim was due to them. Contractors have approached government to release the amount which had been withheld after the then Additional Commissioner Kashmir caste doubts over the existence of the works and said that some of the works were fictitious and didn’t exist at all. However, the then Deputy Commissioner, whom the additional Commissioner Kashmir had accused of ‘financial irregularities’, ridiculed the report and accused the latter of demanding bribe.
According to sources, the matter was then referred to a high level inquiry team which comprised R&B executive engineers of Baramula and Sopore and the additional deputy commissioner Kupwara which was asked to submit the report to the governemnt, which the team did after inspecting many of the sites. Though the team has been maintaining silence over the contents of the report, sources said, the team had actually found some irregularities, but did not make them public.
Meanwhile Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Sarmad Hafeez confirmed that he has been conducting ‘random’ inspection of the disputed works, however added that it will take time to submit the final report to the govt. “ I have been directed by the government to conduct random checks of the works which I have started but it will take time to submit my final report”, Hafeez told KNS on Wednesday. The deputy Commissioner refused to comment on his observation of the sites he has visited but said that the inquiry team has already submitted its report to the government.
The deputy Commissioner said that some contractors have approached to the government for release of the pending payments, but added that unless the government did not pass any directions, funds couldn’t be released in their favour.
Pertinently the matter came to fore in the beginning of this year, when the then Additional Commissioner Kashmir, Ab Majeed Wani accused the then Deputy Commissioner, Mohammad Shafi Rather, who is presently posted as Director School Education Kashmir, of seeking money from the government against ‘non existing’ works in the flood hit areas of the frontier district. Rather however had shot back at Wani, lodging a formal complaint against the officer with the Chief Secretary.
“He (Additional Commissioner Kashmir) called Joint Director Planning of DC Kupwara office and demanded gratification for pushing through the papers (seeking release of funds),” DC Kupwara’s letter to CS bearing number DCK/PS/2011/8252-58 dated: 9. 11.2011 reads.
The then Additional Commissioner in his investigation report had reportedly pointed out that there were large-scale irregularities in the flood restoration works executed by different government departments in Kupwara district. Additional Commissioner’s report says that out of 483 works, which administration claimed to have undertaken, cross-check was conducted of 75 works.
“However, among them, 65 works were not executed. While in 10 other works, only 10-20 percent restoration work was carried out,” claims the report.
Pertinently, the district administration Kupwara had approached divisional administration to release the funds for clearing the work-done liabilities. The DDC Kupwara vide his letter number, DDCK/ Flood Restoration/ 2010/4886-88 dated: 25-08-2011 had claimed that Rs 11 crore were spent on the restoration works.
“Kindly refer minutes of the State Executive Committee Meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary J&K State on 18th of July 2011 issued under endorsement NO: REV/ER/41/2010 Dated: 9-7-2011 regarding the subject cited above. In this connection, the sector-wise/scheme-wise utilization of funds received under CRF for undertaking relief/ rescue measures along with utilization certificate and latest work done is enclosed with the request to kindly release Rs 1126.74 lakh under CRF for finalization of the work-done claims of the concerned executing agencies,” the requisition letter reads. (KNS)

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