Meerut: Customs and central goods and services tax (GST) officials of Meerut Zone are using vehicles allotted to them for official work to commute from their homes in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Meerut to their place of work, according to a letter from the office of the principal director of audit (central), Lucknow.
The letter has been written against the backdrop of the principal director last month asking for details of the vehicles used by the Meerut, Dehradun, Ghaziabad, and Noida zones.
Gross misuse of vehicles
The enquiry found gross misuse of vehicles and put the officials under the scanner of the Indian Audit and Accoutns Department.
Senior officials of the Ghaziabad and Meerut commissionerate said that officers were cooperating with the audit scrutiny and appropriate corrective action would be taken to prevent misuse.
An audit officer probing the misuse of the operational and staff vehicles also said: “Only commercial vehicles with yellow number plates are to be hired for use by the department but private vehicles of the officers family and relatives are used in service and hefty transport allowance is claimed.”
The audit team probing vehicles hired by the Meerut zone commissionerate for official work said toll records showed that bills for vehicles with registration numbers UP 14 JT 4685 and UP 14 GT 7032 submitted by the contractor for local use of customs and GST officers were commercial trucks plying in Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam, said the letter, which was sent to the chief commissioner, central goods and services tax, Meerut Zone. Another vehicle used by Meerut customs and GST officials was found to be operating in Mathura and Agra, far from its area of operations.
In Ghaziabad commissionerate, the scrutiny of bills and log books showed that vehicles with registration numbers HR 66 B 5559 and HR 66 B 7939 revealed were operating in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab and even travelled to Himachal Pradesh, according to the letter.
The audit team scrutinised the log books of vehicles allotted to IRS officers of assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners, joint commissioners, and additional commissioners, as well as the tenders, agreements, and work orders of the hired vehicles with bills paid. The audit team asked the respective chief commissioners of the Customs and GST zones to submit written statements of the vehicles used in their areas.
“More than 2000 vehicles are hired with an annual expenditure of Rs 5-6 lakh per vehicle, which comes to more than Rs500 crore in last five years alone since GST was rolled out. Only the officers above the rank of commissioners are entitled to use staff vehicle but other junior officers such as assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners are not only using such vehicles but are also drawing travel allowances,” complained Abhijat Srivastava, general secretary, All India Central Excise Inspectors Association Lucknow Circle.
Major financial loss to the exchequer
The misuse of official vehicles and claims of illegal travel allowances by IRS officers has led to a major financial loss to the exchequer, according to the complaint with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India by the Transparency Campaigners Society,
“All operational vehicles should be installed with GPS to track their movements in respective jurisdiction. All officers should sign the log book immediately after use of the vehicles with details of the location travelled instead of just “local use for official purpose” written by the driver. Action should be taken against officers clearing bills without verifying log books and bills submitted by the contractor,” said Transparency Campaigners Society coordinator Shekhar S.
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