Mumbai: Amid policy objections, CAG begins audit of pandemic projects

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has undertaken the audit of BMC expenditure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kalpesh MhamunkarUpdated: Thursday, December 08, 2022, 02:25 AM IST
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Mumbai: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has undertaken the audit of BMC expenditure during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as per experts, the CAG is not within its right to conduct audit of expenses on health during the pandemic as per the provision of the Epidemic Act 1897. 

On Oct 29, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had issued directions to the CAG to audit BMC projects to the tune of Rs12,000 crore undertaken from Nov 28, 2019 to Feb 28, 2022, when the MVA was in power in Maharashtra.

The probe was ordered following the BJP’s corruption allegations vis-à-vis contracts awarded during the pandemic. Transactions of at least 10 departments are expected to be probed by the CAG. Following the CM’s order, a team comprising eight to 10 members had visited the BMC headquarters in November-end and had met BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal and other senior officers. The CAG has been tasked to finish the audit before 2022 draws to a close.

However, according to official sources, the CAG can only seek details of expenditure made by the BMC but cannot express its own view, observation and objections on health expenditure. A senior officer of the BMC said on condition of anonymity, “It’s difficult for corporations to follow the accurate process of tenders during a pandemic.” The BMC spent Rs3538.73 crore during the pandemic and Rs907 crore on hospitals from 2020-22.

Meanwhile, apart from the Covid expenses, CAG will audit the BMC expenditure on an Ajmera plot in Dahisar for Rs339.14 crore; expenses of Rs1,496 crore on four bridges, Rs2,286.24 crore to repair 56 roads, Rs1,084.61 crore on six sewage projects, and Rs1,020.48 crore on solid waste management projects. Moreover, Rs1,187.36 crore was spent on three sewage treatment plants. 

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