Lending more teeth to the Assam BJP's claims of alleged financial mismanagement in the ongoing process to update the National Register of Citizens or NRC by the former coordinator Prateek Hajela, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in an interim report has found financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 108 crore.
The report comes after the Assam Public Works (APW), one of the original petitioners of the NRC in Assam, filed an FIR with the CBI against former Assam state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela for alleged misappropriation of the NRC fund.
According to the copy of the interim report accessed by NDTV, around Rs 905.72 crore was released between 2013-14 and 2017-18. "An amount of Rs 52,07,99,238 was released as Mobilisation Advance (MA) to the System Integrator (SI), Wipro Ltd which led to the loss of interest amounting to Rs.9,49,36,632. Non recovery of penalty led to undue benefit to Wipro and consequence loss to government exchequer amount to Rs 2.91 crore," the report observes.
"The sole bidder WIPRO was selected as System Integrator for development and maintenance of NRC Software Solution and setting up of 1500 NRC sewa kendras (NSKs). Increasing the NRC sewa Kendras from 1500 to 2500 after selection of the sole bidder was unjustified. The original offered bid value of Rs 196.65 crore was increased to 232.10 crore. Thus awarding the work to the sole bidder without inviting fresh tender was not in order. The technical bid of the sole bidder scores only 73%, which indicated that the bidder was not technically fit. Accepting the single bidder for the NRC updation project resulted not only delay in completion of the Project but also huge expenditure" the report adds.
This interim report is for the period April 1, 2014 to December 3, 2017 and requests a reply within one month.
The former state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela was not available for his comment. He has been sent on an inter-cadre transfer to Madhya Pradesh by Supreme Court that monitors the process of updating the NRC in Assam.
However, well places sources in Assam NRC claimed that report was only from 2018 and only included observations and not final conclusions.
"They have sent these observations to us and state finance department. We have also sent the replies. Only a final AG report will tell if there was financial mismanagement. State finance department has its employees deputed to NRC, NRC is not a private entity, it's a Government of India institution and all employees are deputed from Assam government. There is a coordination committee which is headed by the chief secretary," said a top NRC official who did not wanted to be named.
Ordered by the Supreme Court to identify legal residents of the state, the NRC was published on August 31 in Assam, leaving out nearly 20 lakh people who have been given four months to challenge their exclusion.