The CAG report has found the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer guilty of sidelining the instructions of the Election Commission of India in purchase of ‘Voting Compartment’ and thus causing loss of over Rs 5 crore to the exchequer. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) smacks of financial irregularity in the purchase process followed in Madhya Pradesh for the Assembly election 2018.
The CAG has come across various financial and procedural irregularities into the procurement of the voting compartment done on the orders of the CEO-MP.
The Election Commission of India had asked the CEO to purchase the voting compartments. It was specified that the compartment shall be of ‘steel gray colour corrugated plastic sheet’. The CEO was also instructed to follow the procurement store rule.
The CEO issued the orders to the district collectors and the election officer to purchase the PVC Foam fitted voting compartment, in place of ‘steel gray colour corrugated plastic sheet’ from the MP Laghu Uoyghyog Nigam (MP-LUN). The 19 districts procured the item from the MP-LUN between July 2017 and June 2018.
The state Uttar Pradesh purchased the ‘steel gray colour corrugated plastic sheet’ in four ranges Rs 135, Rs 150, Rs 165 and Rs 180. The state Rajasthan had procured the one ballot unit for Rs 222. However, here in home state the CEO-MP procured the units in two different ranges - Rs 1,844 and Rs 1753.
The ECI had made the mandatory to purchase only the ‘steel gray colour corrugated plastic sheet’, but the CEO-MP ignored the specifications and went ahead with procuring the ‘PVC Foam’ compartments.
When the CAG asked for an explanation from the CEO-MP, the authorities denied any irregularity in procurement claiming that the PVC Foam was as good as is as equal to the ‘steel gray colour corrugated plastic sheet’.
The CAG found the answer unsatisfactory and quoted that the CEO had failed to follow the instructions of the ECI regarding the procurement procedure. The CEO should have called the tenders, e-tenders for the procurement, but the process was skipped. In the process, sum of Rs
Rs 5.06 crore was wasted if compared to state Rajasthan, said the CAG report.