Millennium Post

Is CAG fighting a futile battle?

Even if the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) keeps filing reports after reports exposing gaping loopholes in the government’s flagship schemes, one does wonder what would to come out of yet another ‘independent probe’ looking into the matters. While P Chidambaram had stated that the government was ready for an investigation into the Rs 55,000-crore farm loan-waiver scheme, after MPs raised concern over irregularities into the leakage of funds in it, the government had been defending the scheme claiming that there was no corruption in it, until the CAG tabled its report. A huge percentage of the money that was poured into the scheme has largely vanished, amounting to almost Rs 10,000-crore, according to the opposition parties, which remains unaccounted for because the rural development ministry has no knowledge these funds’ whereabouts. The CAG is an impartial authority and the government should not have doubted the veracity of its statements, which had been prepared after scanning smallest of details in the matters of execution and implementation of these so-called populist welfare developmental projects.

Furthermore, even though the government has begun to pump in more money into the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the CAG has come down heavily on it, implicating the Women and Child Development Ministry for diversion of ICDS funds. These are serious failings in the ICDS which is a key national level social welfare scheme to tackle malnutrition and health problems in children below 6 years of age as well as their mothers. Despite the prevalence of this scheme, malnutrition rates in India continue to be astronomically high, typically present in about 50 per cent of children in several states. Moreover, the CAG has said that the government failed to implement a Supreme Court direction on the universalisation of the ICDS by 2008. In addition, according to the report, Rs 57.82 crore was diverted for activities not permitted under the ICDS scheme in at least five states. Also, report says that the government did not sanction the required number of anganwadis. Despite the CAG having pointed out lacunae in the implementation of the schemes, the government has done little to remedy them.
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