The Centre’s flagship Namami Gange project has been marred by poor financial management and implementation woes in the past three years, a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed. The CAG’s audit, that covered 87 projects worth Rs7,992.34 crore, found that only eight to 63 per cent of the funds were spent between 2014-15 and 2016-17 in comparison with the revised estimate.Out of Rs6,705 crore earmarked during 2015-16 and 2016-17, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the project’s nodal implementing authority, could spend only Rs 1,665.41 crore. This was less than a quarter of the expected year-wise release of funds. “Thus, financial targets set under the Namami Gange Programme were not achieved,” the CAG report said.The report also said that the project was lagging on the rural sanitation front. Except Uttarakhand, the other four states -Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -could not achieve the target of construction of 100 per cent individual household latrines as of 31 March 2017.The national auditor said that multilateral implementation and poor planning were some of the chief reasons for funds lying unutilised with the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is the nodal implementing authority for cleaning the national river. As a result of poor planning and missing of deadlines, large quantities of untreated sewage continues to pollute Ganga across towns and cities along the main stem of the river.”We found that NMCG prepared its budget without any annual action plan. Further, the budget files at NMCG did not contain the details of planned activities and their estimated cost. Thus, NMCG did not follow the prescribed procedure for preparation of budget,” the CAG’s audit report said.As per the target dates, award for the work of all the sewage treatment plants (STP) was to be completed by September 2016, the CAG noted. The NMCG though, is yet to finalise and approve detailed project reports (DPRs) for projects totalling 1,397 MLD capacity as of August 2017. NMCG also informed CAG that there was a sewage treatment capacity gap of 2,109 million litres per day in 106 towns along in the five basin states along Ganga.During its audit of the human resources, the CAG found that except 16 government employees, contractual employees occupied all positions in NMCG and the organization was short on manpower. There was a 44 per cent shortfall and despite an approval from the Union Cabinet, the sanctioned strength has not been increased from 58 to 111.Namami Gange has been a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and of his two Lok Sabha constituencies is Varanasi, which is situated on the banks of the Ganga.MANPOWER CRUNCHDuring its audit of the human resources, the CAG found that except 16 government employees, contractual employees occupied all positions in NMCG was short on manpower.
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