Anti-terror Fund Lines VIP Nests
8 December 2003
The Times of India
Srinagar: In the 15-odd years since insurgency gripped Jammu and Kashmir , sucking in a tidal wave of Union money, the state government has yet to devise a satisfactory way of keeping track of the cash flowing in from Delhi . The predictable result: money from the Security Related Expenditure head has been, and continues to be, used for buying carpets, geysers, TV sets and the like for the state's VIPs. The misutilised amount, deputy accountant-general Sanjay Goyal told TNN, should be about Rs 8 crore a year in the 1996-2001 period. Last year, in the closing days of the Farooq government, the report of the Union comptroller and auditor-general (CAG) on the matter was tabled. There must be no more delay in devising a procedure to ensure correct and separately identifiable accounting of SRE, it said. More than a year has gone by under the successor government headed by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. The report is still gathering dust. The CM himself holds the finance portfolio. Why the delay, TNN asked him. Mufti said he was surprised: the matter hadn't been put up to him. 'We'll look into it,' he promised. Goyal noted there is no way to verify what has been spent on SRE since the veracity of departmental figures cannot be attested by audit. So, one can only estimate, such as the Rs 42 crore he's sure was misutilised between 1996 and 2001. Departmental sources say the refurbishing of Mufti's house has also come from SRE money. Carpets and geysers may be only a minor diversion. In 2001 for instance, the state's estate department said 57 per cent of its spending on civil works in Jammu was SRE money, far higher than the 43 per cent so spent in Srinagar, the CAG report said. Yet, by any measure, Srinagar 's insurgency problem is much worse than Jammu . The Union government is just as guilty as the Farooq and Mufti administrations: the state was under President's Rule for a long spell after 1989 and then, it is entirely money from the Union treasury.