Procurement of Satellite Phones without ensuring availability of hub for their connectivity and purchase of an ambulance without ensuring services of a Medical Officer resulted in wasteful expenditure and blocking of Rs 59.08 lakh.
Rule 21 of the General Financial Rules 2005 envisages that every officer incurring or authorizing an expenditure from public funds should be guided by the highest standards of financial propriety and is expected to exercise the same vigilance in respect of expenditure incurred from public funds as a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in respect of expenditure from his own money.
Audit of the office of Directorate General of Home Guards (DGHG), Delhi, for the period 2012-15 revealed two cases of wasteful expenditure and blocking of funds amounting to Rs 59.08 lakh as detailed below:
(A) The DGHG and Civil Defence (CD) procured 15 Satellite Phones (MSS Type D Terminals) in March 2009 at a cost of Rs 46.60 lakh for uninterrupted communication during a disaster and requested (June 2009) the Home (General) Department to take up the matter with MHA for registration of these satellite phones with their hub in Delhi.
On 01 January 2011, the Civil Defence Wing was separated from the DGHG&CD and brought under the Divisional Commissioner (Revenue Department), GNCTD. The new Directorate General of Home Guards (DGHG) requested the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 19 January 2011 and 20 April 2011 for providing linkage to the communication networks through their hub. In response, MHA informed (21 July 2011) that they did not have the required hub to support satellite phones and advised DGHG to approach the Space Applications Centre, ISRO, in this respect. DGHG again requested MHA (Disaster Management Division) on 17 October 2011 to take up the matter with the Space Applications Centre for allotment in the hub. Finally, Satellite Communication and Navigation Programme (SATCOM), Bangalore, approved (29 June 2012) the support for the satellite phones through the Disaster Management Support Hub and the terminals were registered (July 2012) with the Space Application Centre, Delhi Earth
As these satellite phones were procured for use by Civil Defence in the event of disaster and emergency, DGHG requested (July 2012) the Divisional Commissioner (Revenue Department) to take over the phones for the Directorate of Civil Defence at the earliest. However, the Directorate of Civil Defence refused (12 March 2013) to accept the satellite phones citing connectivity and other problems which occurred during the demonstration of these phones for checking
their existing conditions. Thereafter, DGHG sent a proposal (May 2014) to the Home (General) Department, GNCTD, that satellite phones may be transferred to any other organisation such as the National Disaster Response Force or the Directorate of Coordination, Police Wireless to enable their utilisation. No further progress was made and the satellite phones were lying idle as of June 2016.
Audit observed that DGHG purchased 15 satellite phones at a cost of Rs. 46.60 lakh without ensuring the availability of a hub which was an absolute necessity for their connectivity to the network. Even after their registration with Space Application Centre, the satellite phones were not put to use for seven years after their procurement raising a question on their performance. Moreover, SATCOM had warned that the life of INSAT-3C through which these phones were supported, was expected to end in 2015-16 and the future support for these phones (MSS type-D) was not assured.
DGHG stated (June 2016) that satellite phones were purchased for Civil Defence when the Directorate was combined and thereafter the Directorate of Civil Defence had refused to take over these phones. They had also approached Home Department and other agencies which could have utilized these phones but none responded positively. The reply is not acceptable as ensuring the availability of the space as a hub for such phones was a pre-requisite. Thus, poor planning and conceptualization resulted in wasteful expenditure of Rs. 46.60 lakh.
(B) Under the extant rules, a ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Committee for Registration of Ambulance (CRA) under the Department of Health and Family Welfare (DHFW) is a pre-requisite for registering an ambulance with the Transport Department. Audit observed that DGHG procured (July 2014) an ambulance at a cost of Rs. 12.48 lakh and requested (30 July 2014) DHFW for issuance of NOC for its registration with the Transport Department. CRA informed (January 2015) that a qualified Doctor as Medical Control Physician was an essential requirement for issuance of NOC and advised DGHG to appoint a qualified doctor as a Medical Control Physician failing which, the application for registration of an ambulance might be rejected.
Thus, the purchase of a vehicle for use as an ambulance without ensuring the mandatory requirement of a Medical officer resulted in the blocking of Rs. 12.48 lakh for almost two years.
DGHG stated (June 2016) that it had been making persistent efforts for getting Medical Officer posted for issuance of NOC from CRA.
The matter was referred to the Government in June 2016 their reply was awaited (December 2016).