The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has faulted the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for setting up an autonomous body in an “irregular” manner without seeking Cabinet approval and releasing funds to the tune of Rs 241.04 crore for it during 2009-2014.
In its latest report on administrative functioning of Autonomous Bodies (ABs) of the DST, the CAG said the department had submitted a proposal before Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) for the approval of a project, ‘Establishment of Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy’, under Integrated Long Term Programme in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 46.27 crore for the years 1989-95.
Envisaged as a joint venture between India and erstwhile USSR, the project was approved in May 1990 by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
Meanwhile, the CAG said the DST formed a society ‘Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy’ through a Memorandum of Association (MoA) signed by seven members and registered in October 1990 under Andhra Pradesh (Telangana area) Public Societies Registration Act.
The society named ‘Indo-Soviet Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy’ on November 7, 1991 was renamed ‘International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials’ (ARCI) on March 17, 1994 in view of dissolution of the USSR.
The CAG though observed the formation of ARCI as an AB was not in line with rule 208 of General Financial Rules (GFRs) which states that no new autonomous institution should be created by ministries or departments without Cabinet approval.
“We observed that establishment of ARCI as an AB was not mentioned in the EFC memorandum submitted to the Cabinet. The approval accorded by the Cabinet was for the project and a fixed duration from 1989 to 1995.
“Establishment of ARCI as an AB and continuing funding to it was irregular as its formation was not approved by the Cabinet as required under GFRs,” the CAG said.
The auditor suggested to the DST that it may obtain ex-post facto approval of the Cabinet for establishment of International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, Hyderabad as an AB for regularisation of its continuance and ensure that the prescribed procedures are followed for creation of autonomous bodies.
There are 28 ABs under administrative control and are substantially funded by the DST, located in different parts of the country.