From February 2015 to March 2021, three Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) in Nagaland namely Deputy Commandant Village Guards (VG) -Mon, Deputy Commandant VG-Kiphire and Assistant Commandant VG-Meluri, irregularly drew Ration Allowance (RA) of 1.95 crore through 24 bills which were in addition to the regular RA bills already drawn. Further, the Deputy Commandant VG, Mon, drew an amount of 44.57 lakh by presenting five RA bills on COVID-2019 duty to the Senior TO, Mon. These audit reports were disclosed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its Social, Economic, General and Revenue Sector for the year ended 31 March 2022 report.
According to the CAG, the “failure of the Treasury Officers in exercising the prescribed checks while passing the additional Ration Allowance bills presented by three Drawing and Disbursing Officers of the Village Guards Organisation resulted in unauthorised drawal of ₹2.40 crore.”
Village Guards (VGs) personnel are entitled to a grant of Ration Allowance (RA) at the rate of Rs.25 per person per day for 12 days in a month while they are on duty within the village jurisdiction. And, as per a March 1999 order of the Commissioner, Nagaland, the District VG Officers/ Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) are not delegated any power to sanction additional RA.
However, the CAG’s examination of records (October 2021) of the Commissioner, Nagaland and four district offices under the Village Guards Organisation (VGO) revealed that the three DDOS irregularly drew an additional RA of 1.95 crore through 24 bills during between 2015 to 2021. Further investigation of record disclosed that the Commissioner, Nagaland submitted (April 2020) a proposal to the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) for procurement of basic medical items and RA to VG personnel on COVID-19 duty. Accordingly, NSDMA sanctioned (April 2020) 70.68 lakh (13.10 lakh for procurement of basic medical items and 57.58 lakh for five District VG Offices/ DDOS as additional RA to 9,596 VG personnel on COVID-19 duty). As a one-time dispensation, the additional RA for performance of COVID-19 duty was fixed at ₹50 per person per day for 12 days. NSDMA transferred the total sanctioned amount to the Commissioner’s bank account. The additional RA released by NSDMA was further transferred (April 2020) to the respective DDOs (VGs) bank accounts. “It was observed that apart from the fund sanctioned (April 2020) by the NSDMA, there was no Government notification/ order authorising deployment of VGs and payment of RA to VG personnel on COVID-19 duty. The Deputy Commandant VG, Mon, however, drew an amount of 44.57 lakh by presenting five RA bills on COVID-2019 duty to the Senior TO, Mon,” mentioned the CAG.
“It is evident that the DDOS submitted irregular claims to the Treasuries with the intention of drawal of additional RA without any sanction of the State Government. The TOS also did not insist on sanction orders from the competent authority before passing the bills and authorising the payment,” claimed the CAG.
Despite the Commissioner of Nagaland’s response in September 2022 that “the DDOs drew RA for additional days beyond the regular claim of RA for 12 days in a month”, the CAG stated that the justification is not acceptable since the additional drawal was not authorised by the State Government.
The CAG further recommended that the State Government initiate appropriate action against the erring officers responsible for the fraudulent drawals and recover the amount from the concerned employees/ DDOS/TOS; take steps to strengthen the internal control mechanism in VG organisation to prevent recurrence of unauthorised drawals and ensure that the checks and balances are in place.