Buck stops here!

The Nagarvasti Vikas Yojana (NVY), which is meant for providing support to various self-help groups (SHGs) and the needy, may be turning into a bane. Shocking revelations through documents on subsidy to the paper bag project — one of the projects in NVY — provided to this reporter show irregularities in the project, which raises the possibility of money being misused by the PMC.

The documents reveal that the money under the scheme has been released to these groups for carrying out paper bag project, an initiative by NVY, by the PMC arbitrarily and no account of its use has been kept. Surendra Shroff, a resident of Deccan and chairman, environment, Rotary Club of Pune Central, provided this reporter with the documents like forms submitted by SHGs for the subsidy on paper bag project and subsidy given to these groups, among other things.

Paperwork not quite right: Paper bags being made at a self-help group. Activists say forms filled under the NVY have several issues and there could be irregularities aplenty

The PMC announced subsidy of 50 per cent or Rs 50,000, whichever is less, on expense to start the paper bag project.

“PMC itself is not clear about the concept of whether subsidy should be given to machinery expenses or on total project expenses. As per my knowledge that I derived from the documents, I feel they are supposed to give subsidy on the machineries but they have given it on materials as well,” said Shroff.

To get the subsidy, SHGs have to fill a form and attach original receipt of the machinery and raw material purchased. Shroff said, “I have gone through various forms and bills/receipts attached in the documents. Some of the groups have attached quotations instead of bills while claiming for the expenses. Also expenses mentioned in the bills are not proper and there are mistakes in its calculation.”

RTI activist Vivek Velankar said, “The matter seems to be serious. There is a problem with auditing here. After seeing the documents, I have inferred there has been no follow-up on the utilization of money given to these groups. We are also waiting for the some more documents, which will clear the air.”

The documents also reveal the business done by SHGs or other business groups has not been mentioned and columns where this should have been written are left vacant or incomplete. “The document also has columns like subsidy demanded by groups and recommendation of amount to be given to them. In these columns of documents for financial year 2010-2011, various groups have received Rs 25,000 as subsidy, which should be half the cost of business material or 50,000, whichever is less. This has been repeated in documents for financial year 2011-2012. This shows that the amount has been sanctioned without much study of their documents. For instance, at one place in the document, the business group demanded Rs 19,000 but PMC sanctioned 25,000,” Shroff said.

Talking about the business made by these groups, Velankar said, “The PMC could have taken an account of the amount of business that has been done by these groups. A few columns have been left empty on purpose as there are many groups that have done business of a few thousand rupees only.”

Shroff also said that few SHGs have attached bills of paper bags bought from various stores.

Highlighting another loophole, Shroff said, “Another important thing to notice in the documents is that missing training certificates of the groups, though they have mentioned that they have received training for the project. But there is no evidence to back this. Also as per the information on the kind of material used, it clearly shows that they lack knowledge on paper bag making since such material is not used in it.”

Dismissing the allegations on misuse of funds, Dnyaneshwar Molak, Joint Commissioner, PMC, who also looks after Nagarvasti Vikas Yojana, said, “There are no irregularities as alleged. So far we have provided help to 163 SHGs but in a recent survey conducted by us, it was found that 44 groups were not working on the project. Therefore, we served a legal notice to them demanding resuming work immediately or returning of funds.” 

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