Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Undue financial benefit given by CADC to a Contractor: CAG Report

By Tejang Chakma

The other day, as I was looking for some materials for research related work, I came across a report by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India which revealed undue financial benefit of over Rs. 3 crore given by Chakma Autonomous District Council, Mizoram to a contractor. Similar news stories are reported earlier but it appears that this news is hitherto unknown to the general public.

According to the CAG’s latest “Audit Report (Civil), Mizoram for the Year 2009-2010”, the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) paid advance of Rs. 3.61 crore to a contractor from the public exchequer in violation prescribed procedures of Central Public Work Department works manual and financial rules. This has resulted in undue financial benefit to the contractor together with loss of interest.

In April 2010, scrutiny of records of the Executive Secretary, CADC by the CAG disclosed that out of the available funds of the Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) CADC in January 2008 started implementation of Project “Upgradation of Parva-I to Semensora Road in Mizoram” funded by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) at the total cost of Rs. 12.26 crore. The state government released Rs. 7.56 crore to the CADC in two installments in September 2007 and May 2009 respectively along with loan component of Rs. 41.99 lakh in February 2008.

On 29 January 2008, the CADC’s Selection Committee selected an Aizawl-based contractor based on lowest tendered rates. On the next day, a work order was issued to the contractor for the execution of the work at the tendered amount of Rs. 12.02 crore specifying 18 months as the scheduled time of completion of the work. Based on the applications received from the contractor, the CADC unauthorisedly released advances of Rs. 3.61 crore (mobilization advance of Rs. 2.40 crore and advance of Rs. 1.21 crore for plant and machinery) to the contractor.

This was against the permissible advance. The CAG found that against the permissible advance of Rs. 1.80 crore (mobilization advance of Rs. 1.20 crore and Rs. 0.60 crore for advance for purchase of plant and machineries), the CADC unauthorisedly sanctioned and disbursed a total advance of Rs. 3.61 crore, which resulted in excess payment of advance of Rs. 1.81 crore with undue benefit to the contractor.

The CAG report further revealed that the mobilistion advance of Rs. 2.40 crore was released to the contractor without obtaining any bank guarantee and without incorporating any provision for realization of 10 percent simple interest in the sanction orders. This is not all. The CADC did not obtain any documents in support of purchase of new plant and machinery before releasing advance of Rs. 1.21 crore. Neither did CADC could able to produce details of deductions with regard to recovery of both the advances as of April 2010.

Consequently, the CADC failed in ensuring safeguard its interest. The CAG report revealed that the CADC could not even initiate any action to fix responsibility against the erring officials as of January 2011.

The matter was reported to the government in July 2010. In its reply in August 2010, the government stated that action was being taken with the concerned District Council. However, no further reply was submitted as of January 2011.

The CADC is not alone. The CAG also reported unauthorized diversion of recurring grants of Rs. 1.53 crore by the Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC). The unspent grant was unauthorisedly utilized towards expenditure other than salary during 2007-2008. During 2007-2008, Rs.24.52 crore was released as non-recurring grant-in-aid to the Council under Non-Plan Sector for meeting the salary component of General Secretariat (Rs. 9.72 crore) and Education Department. The grant was released with the clear stipulation that it should not be diverted for any other purpose other than for which it was allocated.

In its reply, the Council stated that they have utilized the entire fund for the purpose it was meant for. However, the claim of the Council was rejected as the Annual Accounts approved by the Council and submitted during 2007-2008 clearly reflected non-plan expenditure.  

Monday, 8 August 2011

Why NLFT is the worst militant outfit in the northeast India?

By Tejang Chakma

According to the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 in non-international armed conflict situation, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

      “(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Further, Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts of 8 June 1977, among others, prohibits “(e) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault; and (g) pillage.”

Even a cursory reading of the provisions of the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and its Optional Protocol suggests that the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a militant outfit in Tripura, made a mockery of the provisions.

The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) was formed on 12 March 1989 with the purported objective to establish an ‘independent’ Tripura through an armed struggle and furtherance of a ‘distinct and independent identity’. Since inception, the NLFT suffered from internal conflicts owing to various issues including leadership differences, lavish lifestyles of senior leadership, among others, resulting in splits. 

The NLFT was banned in April 1997 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, due to its involvement in terrorist and subversive activities. For furtherance of their so-called objective, a report indicated that the Nayanbasi Jamatiya faction of the NLFT and another outfit All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) joined hands under code name "Operation Roukhala (deportation)" purportedly to ‘drive out’ Bengali immigrants settled in Tripura after 15 October 1949. Many non-tribals were killed and abducted by the NLFT, while political activists, irrespective of their ethnic origins, belonging to ruling CPI-M were repeatedly targeted.

Violence is the only objective of the NLFT. Non-tribals or tribals, all are equally targeted. The abuses committed by NLFT are endless. From the beginning, the NLFT has shown scant respect for international humanitarian law. They engaged themselves in violent acts which included kidnappings, extortion, killings including mass murders, rapes, and bombings. 

The brutal face of NLFT can be seen from its high number of serious crime against women and children. In fact, the NLFT is worst among its other counterparts in the north east region in this regard. There were several instances, when women and children were raped, killed, and subjected to ill-treatment. For example, six Chakma tribal women, including two minor girls, were gang raped by the NLFT militants in front of their family members at Baisyaram Karbaripara, a Chakma dominated tribal village in Chhwamanu in Dhalai district in March 2004. The NLFT was even accused of producing pornographic films by using its female cadres to funds its terror activities and that the female cadres were sexually abused in the camps by their male counterparts were confirmed by the female surrendered cadres.

Over the years, several of its cadres realized that violence can never be a solution and started surrendering. However, the NLFT targeted its surrendered cadres and killed many of them including their innocent family members in retaliation. This did not, however, deter them from surrendering to lead a peaceful life. As its strength started dwindling due to surrender of its cadres, the NLFT has increasingly been resorting to kidnapping of innocent poor people, including tribals for whom they claim to represent, for extortion to fund its terror activities and as a desperate attempt to make its presence felt. In fact, kidnapping for ransom by the NLFT has become a common occurrence in Tripura. The recent kidnapping of 8 Chakma tribals on July 19, 2011, whose whereabouts are still unknown, for ransom is an example. On its part, the state government's episodic response failed to stop the recurring menace. 

The NLFT has no public sympathy; they are despised by all communities, including the tribals. They are the worst militant outfit in the northeast region and they have no words called "Human Rights" in their dictionary.