Right to Information
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Audit Report of Urban Local Bodies of Tamil Nadu
In the audit report of Virudhachalam municipality for the year 1999-2000, para 200 required that the replies to the audit remarks should be submitted within 2 months after getting council. approval. Para 201 specified that there were 1945 pending audit items totaling to a value of Rs.6,95,03,439 which needed to be settled.
The earliest audit remark relates to the year 1965. Starting with an amount of barely one hundred rupees in that year, the amount has increased by leaps and bounds reaching to the current mammoth amount of nearly seven crore rupees. It is astonishing that no one at any level has cared to take any action. If action had been taken at the beginning itself to fix responsibility and recover the losses, the amount under objection would not have risen to such alarming proportions.
In any case, with an eagerness to safeguard public money, Dr.valluan took steps to clear the audit remarks. He wrote to the Commissioner a number of times to examine and provide reply for the various points of objection. There was no response.
Dr.Valluvan then wrote to the Chief Minister highlighting the unsettled audit objections and the huge amount involved. He also brought the issue to the notice of the local fund audit officials in Cuddalore. No one bothered. No action was taken to reply to the audit nor to recover the amount involved from the officials concerned.
On 8-4-2005, the issue was raised in the Tamilnadu assembly by Thiru VelMurugan MLA. Panrutti constituency. He asked about the pending audit reports and also wanted the audit department to function more effectively.
Subsequently, Dr.Valluvan tried to get the following information through the RTI Act.
Out of 1945 audit remarks how many has been attended to?
Was any amount recovered and credited to public funds?
were found responsible for the lapses and what action has been taken
As the belated information received was incomplete and insufficient, Dr.Valluvan appealed to the state Information commission. Acknowledging the complaint the Commission called for a meeting of the departmental officials and Dr.Valluvan. The Information Commissioner wondered as to how audit reports could be kept pending for as long as 35 years, and wanted to know the reason for it. It was replied on the officials side that the ‘joint meeting’ had not been held. Commissioner’s query as to when it would be held brought out a casual and lethargic reply, ‘soon’. Dr.Valluvan pointed out that if the amount is so much in one municipality, how much would it come to in respect of all the municipalities and other local bodies in the state. The Commissioner saw the gravity in Dr.Valluvan’s argument and remarked that it was very disturbing and desired that special squads be formed to settle the audit reports. The Commission further ordered that correct and full information should be furnished before 8-1-2007, and waived all the fees and ordered refund.
Dr.Valluvan is of the strong view that municipalities could be financially self sufficient by proper fiscal management. With honest administration, the municipalities apart from being self sufficient could go to the help of neighboring villages also. There is no need to run to international lending agencies with a beggar’s bowl, asserts Dr.Valluvan.
TAMILNADU INFORMATION COMMISSION
R. Rathinasamy I.A.S.(Retd) State Information Commissioner
G. Ramakrishnan I.A.S.(Retd) State Information Commissioner
S. Ramakrishnan I.A.S.(Retd) State Information Commissioner
Case No: 7626 / Enquiry 12006
Date of hearing on 06.06.07
Present : Thiru S. Ramakrishnan, l.A.S.,(Retd) State Chief Information Commissioner
Petitioner : Dr. Mu.Valluvan, 10/88 Mariamman Koil St Puduppet, Virudhachalm 606 001
Public Authority : The Commissioner of Municipal Administration, Chepauk, Chennai 600 005
The Commissioner, Virudhachalam
The petitioner was present and the Public Authorities were represented by the Virudhachalam Municipality and the Joint Director of Municipal Administration.
The petitioner had asked for an information about the alleged losses which has taken place in the Virudhachalam Municipality and the persons responsible for the same.
The Public Authority has replied that the audit has not been finalized and only after that they will be able to fix the responsibility on the individual concerned. Not being satisfied with the reply the petitioner has approached the Commission alleging that he has been given an incomplete reply.
From the statement made before the Commission by the Joint Director of Municipal Administration, the Commissioner, Virudhachalam Municipality, it is seen that the joint sitting with the Local Fund Audit Department to finalize the audit report has not taken place for a very many years for this municipality and as such the audit report of the year 1999-2000. During which period the losses is alleged to have taken place, is still pending or joint sitting before finalization. In fact the municipality has submitted the accounts for only 2000-2001 so far. Finalization of audit report is still pending for over a decade. Since this has been accepted as the fact, it is clear that the information asked for is not yet available with the Municipality and as such they cannot be compelled to give the information which is not available with them. The Commission however would rule that immediately after finalization of the audit, the information must be supplied to the petitioner. The Municipal Commissioner should keep a watch on this.
The Commissioner of Municipal Administration and especially the Secretary, MA&WS are directed to check why such a sorry state of affairs is perpetuated in the Virudhachalam Municipality. The Commission calls the attention of the Secretary, MA&WS to the fact that huge loss to the municipality is alleged and it may bear examination if there is any conspiracy of silence to delay the matters allowing some of the guilty to get scot free. The Secretary MA&WS may explore whether it is advisable to organize a special task force to safe guard the public funds and enforcement of public and departmental discipline. Secretary Finance under whose control of Local Fund Audit Department comes is also commended to pay some personal attention to this state of affairs and ensure that the entire audit function does not dissolve into a public funds are left unsafe guarded/farce. Now that the issue has been highlighted and has come to the notice action is called for lest it should be held that the concerned officers even at the higher level have been remiss accused to have taken their duties lightly even when such specific information is got.
The petitioner represented that the information given to him is vague and incomplete. It is clear that the informtion given is vague. The Municipal Commissioner is directed to give correct information specifically within 15 days of this judgment and obtain the acknowledgement from the petitioner and forward it to the Commission.
STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER.
Orders passed this day 13th June, 2OO7
Achieve By Honesty : Dr.M.Valluvan No. 88 mariyamman kovil street Vriddhachalam - 606 001 - Email : drmvalluvan@ yahoo.com