Shimla: The Horticulture department failed to utilize 12 percent of the allocated funds (2014-19), while three percent of the amount booked as expenditure was parked in saving bank accounts of 19 drawing and disbursing officers (DDOs) and not actually expended.

This is revealed in the CAG report on social, general and economic sectors (Non-Public Sector Undertakings) Himachal Pradesh government for the year ended 31, March 2019.

The performance audit covered the period 2014-2015 to 2018-2019 that was undertaken from June 2019 to October 2019. 

The Performance Audit on ‘Working of Horticulture Department’ included an examination of the elements of the planning process, management of finances, execution of horticulture schemes/activities and internal control systems. Audit noticed deficiencies in planning, financial management, uneconomic and ineffective execution of various horticulture development activities, including creation of infrastructure, supply of improved varieties of plants, post-harvest management and ineffective internal control. The financial implication of this audit intervention is Rs 97.03 crore.

The audit noticed that Utilization of funds available under Government of India (GOI) ranged between 38 percent to 68 percent, however GOI consistently short released funds (Rs 79.22 crore) to the extent of 28 percent during the years 2014-19.

Department had incorrectly submitted UCs to the GOI of  Rs 42.99 crore, against the total funds of  Rs 43.27 crore received under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) during 2014-19, as there was a closing balance of  Rs 5.68 crore still remaining in the saving Bank accounts of 18 DDOs.

Under-utilization of state funds was also observed, against the total outlay of Rs 1,664-63 crores total expenditure accounted was Rs 1,467.83 crore thereby leading to a shortfall in utilization of Rs 196.80 crores.

“Additional outlay of Rs 67.42 crore made during the year 2017-18 remained entirely unutilized, while overall, 11.84 per cent of budget was not utilized during 2014-15 to 2018-19,” maintains the report.

The findings also state that the department did not formulate State Horticulture Policy/Strategic Plan with clear milestones for development of horticulture in the state.

“Department was ineffective in controlling overall, as well as per acre, decline in fruit production during 2014-19. Furthermore, in ten out of the 12 physically verified Plant Cum Demonstration Orchards (PCDOs), 31 percent area was without plantation, four PCDOs did not have nurseries and eight had inadequate irrigation facilities,” maintains the report.                 

Fruit processing units established utilizing subsidies of Rs 3.21 crore remained non-functional.

Difference in cost and quantity of pesticides, improper maintenance of data and non-conducting internal audit reflected ineffective internal control.