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Pawan Hans service: Irregularities galore

SHILLONG: The state Cabinet on April 13  extended the helicopter service by Pawan Hans in the state , but official reports indicate anomalies in the running of helicopter  services ranging from diversion of funds  to  making irregular subsidy claim by the state government from the Centre.
The state government had introduced the helicopter service in 1999.
The reason Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Transport Minister  HDR Lyngdoh had cited after the cabinet meeting was that the Centre is providing 75% subsidy and hence the  service was extended.
According to official sources, the Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) had diverted the commission earned from running helicopter service for payment of salary to the staff instead of depositing the amount with  the state government.
Moreover, another anomaly is that the state government had availed subsidy in an irregular manner from the Centre.
The total amount diverted by MTC during November 2012 to March 2015 without authorization was Rs  2.46 crore, which was irregular.
The report of CAG for the year ended March 31, 2015 corroborated the irregularities.
As per the terms of the central scheme, the subsidy portion was limited to 75 per cent of operational cost after adjusting recovery from passengers.
The state government entrusted MTC in 1999  with commercial activities like sale and cancellation of tickets, handling of passengers and their baggage among others on the basis of commission payable at the rate of nine per cent of the sale proceeds of tickets.
The CAG while stating that there was unauthorized retention of government revenue, pointed out that the sate government had allowed (March 1999/June 2000) MTC, a commission at the rate of 9 per cent on the net sale proceeds of tickets from the operation of helicopter service.
” It was observed that the Corporation instead of depositing the sale proceeds to the account of  Government of Meghalaya  had diverted the proceeds towards salary and other expenditure of the Corporation without approval of the government”, the CAG pointed out .
In reply, the Corporation stated (November 2015) that permission from state government was obtained (October 2012) for diversion of the funds towards payment of employee salaries.
” The reply is not tenable in view of the fact that the permission of Government of Meghalaya referred to in the reply was for a “one time dispensation” only with specific directions to deposit the proceeds into the Government of Meghalaya accounts in future”, the report said.
As per the report, It was noticed that ignoring the specific directions (October 2012) of state government, MTC  continued to retain the government revenue and utilize the same on employee related expenditure  without authorization.
As far as the irregular subsidy claims of state government is concerned, as  per the norms of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the subsidy portion against the helicopter services would be limited to 75 per cent of operational cost after adjusting recovery from passengers.
On the basis of monthly bills issued by Pawan Hans Helicopter Limited (PHHL) in respect of services rendered, the Corporation/Government of  Meghalaya  works out the 75 per cent  Central share (payable by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India) and 25 per cent State share (payable by the Government of Meghalaya).
Over Rs 4.58 crore ignored
” It was, however, observed that while working out the component of Central Subsidy, Corporation/Government of Meghalaya had not adjusted the revenue earned (Rs 4.58 crore) from chartering services rendered (April 2010 to March 2015) to Government functionaries from the operational cost of helicopter services”, the report said.
Thus, during the last 5 years, the state government had claimed excess subsidy amounting to Rs 3.44 crore from the MHA, which was irregular. “No comments were offered by the Corporation on the issue”, the CAG said.

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