AIZAWL, Nov 24: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has detected “wasteful expenditure” to the tune of Rs 2.41 crore by the Mizoram government for the integrated development of eco-tourism circuit project at Thenzawl in Serchhip district. The CAG report said the State Tourism Department had awarded a contract to a Delhi-based consultancy firm before getting approval from the Centre and extended “undue benefits” to the company. Union Ministry of Tourism had accorded approval to the project worth Rs 48.30 crore in November 2014, according to the report.

The State government awarded the work relating to preparation of the detailed project report (DPR), architectural designs and drawings and monitoring of the project implementation to the consultancy firm in September 2013, more than a year before the Centre’s nod to the programme, the CAG report said. 

“An amount of Rs 2.41 crore, being first instalment of the cost of the project, was released for preparatory works,” the report said, adding that the work was to be commissioned by November, 2016. The State government, in March 2015, had appointed Mizoram Tourism Development Authority (MTDA) as the implementing agency for the project and transferred the entire amount of Rs 2.41 crore to it.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed between the Mizoram government and the consultancy firm in April, 2015, had stipulated that Rs 96.59 lakh (40 per cent of the payment) would be paid to the consultant as retainer on signing of the agreement, the report said. 

An amount of Rs 72.45 lakh (30 per cent) would be paid on submission of detailed specifications and an equal amount as last instalment during the course of construction. “The MTDA, however, disbursed the entire amount of Rs 2.41 crore to the consultant on April 24, 2015, April 28, 2015 and December 2, 2015,” the CAG report said.

While the retainer fee was paid on signing of the MoU, the next payment was made within four days, which suggested that the preparation of detailed specifications were completed within four days, the CAG report said. Further, the project monitoring service fee of Rs 72.45 lakh was released to the firm even without commencing the project, indicating that “the State government gave undue benefits to the firm”, it added. – PT

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