BHUBANESWAR: The functioning of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has come under the scanner with the Accountant General (AG) of Odisha stumbling upon alleged misappropriation of funds in the allotment of houses and approval of building plans between 2008 and 2011.
Going by the audit report, a copy of which is with TOI, alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 11.60 lakh and Rs 1.07 lakh were found in allotment of 17 houses under Jatni Housing Scheme and approval of building plans of 45 applicants, respectively. The irregularities were detected during test check of deposit from January 1, 2008 to August 31, 2011.
TOI has learnt that some BDA employees allegedly forged bank receipts for around Rs 11.6 lakh to record money deposited by the beneficiaries of the schemes, while in actuality, the amounts were never deposited. Part of this amount, they allegedly accepted as bribe against clearing applications.
Commenting on the AG finding, Kalinga Sena chief Hemant Rath said, "It clearly indicates that the accused persons took huge share from the beneficiaries by helping them buy houses at cheaper prices. However, in paper they managed to manipulate the figures. The case should be handed over to vigilance. Action should also be taken against the two regular auditors of BDA who ignored the fraud."
"The fake bank challans were stamped with fake signatures with dated bank seals. As this is a serious case of irregularity, the authority may investigate the entire matter," the AG report said, adding, "some of the accounts staff may have been directly involved in the fraud. Immediate steps may be taken to safeguard the records, and to rule out chances of the fabricated records being destroyed."
Incidentally, the auditors had brought the matter to the notice of the BDA vice-chairman thrice in April and May and asked the authority to furnish names of those persons, who were in-charge of collecting challans and bank scrolls and the custodian of the challans. However, the top BDA authorities did not send any report to the AG.
Similarly, the audit found that the accused persons collected nominal amounts for approval of building plans of 45 people, and inflated the amount in its record, leading to a misappropriation of around Rs 1.07 lakh.
BDA vice-chairman Deoranjan Kumar Singh said steps were being taken to recover the money. "We have issued notices to some of the allottees, whose installments were found to be forged. If they do not pay the balance money (in a few lakhs) we will cancel their houses," Singh said. "We are also looking into the possible involvement of BDA staff in the case. Action would be taken against the culprits," he added.