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ESIC’s decision to open colleges ill-planned: CAG

The decision by the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to open medical colleges was ill-planned and no due diligence was done, the Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) said on Friday. The ESIC’s decision to open medical colleges with workers’ money has put the 61-year-old organisation in the dock as Rs 11,000-crore public money, which was to be used for strengthening medical services, has been wasted in construction activity.

Raising doubts over the sudden shift in the ESIC’s main objective, the Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) of India, in its report, has slammed corporation for putting public money to realise its “fancy dreams.” “The decision by the ESIC to open medical colleges was ill-planned and no due diligence was done,” the CAG stated in its report presented in Parliament on Friday.

The social security organisation also did not have any concept paper or project report to assess the viability of opening medical colleges or alternatives to cope up with the shortage of medical staff in ESIC hospitals, the CAG said, adding that the number of sites selected for new medical colleges was disproportionate to the requirement of medical personnel.

“Due diligence, if any, carried out to ascertain the number of colleges required to be opened to fulfil the further requirement of doctors and other paramedical staff was not available,” the report stated.

“The corporation had sanctioned 17 out of 21 medical colleges and started the construction of 16, incurring an expenditure of Rs 1,021.72 crore. Due to no-uniformity in clauses in agreement with architectural consultants, the ESIC was liable to pay extra consultancy a fee of Rs 24.68 crore,” the report stated.

According to the report, all medical colleges taken up, except two, were behind schedule and the total cost of all projects was revised from Rs 8,611.94 crore to Rs 11,997.15 crore, resulting into a cost overrun of Rs 3,385.21 crore.

“Even after incurring a total expenditure of Rs 5,955 crore on 21 medical colleges, none of the projects (except two in Rohini and Ayanavaram) were physically completed and additional liability of Rs 6,042 crore is needed to be incurred by the ESIC for the completion of these projects,” the report said.

After ESIC has decided to exit from the medical education field. Some of its colleges have been retained by state governments, while some are being run by the corporation itself and a few still need takers.

In another report, CAG has found an “institutionalised exaggeration” of figures of children benefiting from the Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme and irregularities such as inflated cost and fudging of data.

The enrolment of children in schools providing mid-day meals is showing a “consistent” decline indicating that more and more people are seeking better education and not just food, the report said. It added the audit “evidenced an institutional exaggeration of figures” regarding students taking meals, irregular diversion or theft of grains, inflated transportation cost and fudging of data pertaining to the supplying of foodgrains.

Another CAG report has stated that delay in the execution of more than 400 projects by the Railways resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore.

“Projects were delayed due to delay in preparation/sanction of estimate and delay in acquisition of land. Delay in completion of projects resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore and huge throw-forward of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in respect of 442 ongoing projects,” the report said.

The CAG has also found that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) like CRPF and BSF have provided very limited number of residential quarters leading to low satisfaction level among them. In a report on construction activities in CAPFs, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said satisfaction level in providing residential accommodation for personnel of CAPFs was ranging between 3 to 22 per cent as on March 2014 as against the prescribed satisfaction level of 25 per cent.
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