Aizawl: Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the year 2021-22 said that Aizawl Municipal Corporation (AMC) incurred irregular expenditure of Rs 1.01 crore on improvement of ‘City Park’ in Aizawl.
According to the CAG audit report, the Government of India on June 25, 2015 launched Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) with the aim of providing basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks, etc., to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
The focus of the Mission is on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of better services to the citizens. One of the thrust areas of “AMRUT” mission is to enhance the amenity values of cities by creating and upgrading green spaces, parks and recreation centres, especially for children.
Test check of records of the Aizawl Municipal Corporation (AMC) in December 2021 revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in October 2016 between AMC and Aijal Club (a registered Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860) to renovate and develop ‘City park’, a park privately managed by and also located within the premises of the Aijal Club from the AMRUT Mission fund of Rs. 1.01 crore which was set aside during the year 2015-16.
As per the agreement, the AMC would renovate and develop the ‘City Park’ with Rs. 1.01 crore and hand over the ‘City Park’ to Aijal Club after completion of the renovation.
The AMC or the State Government or the funding agency or by any one through them shall not make any claim whatsoever to the park and the ownership of the park would be exclusively with Aijal Club. The AMC also shall not charge any expenses on cost of the renovation/ development of the ‘City park’ from the Club.
Scrutiny of records relating to the work for improvement of the ‘City Park’ under AMRUT revealed that an agreement was signed on August 1, 2017 between the AMC and the contractor selected through restricted tender system for the improvement of ‘City Park’ at a cost of Rs. 1.01 crore.
The work was completed on August 31, 2018 and the renovated park was handed over to Aijal Club on December 10, 2018.
A joint site inspection of the ‘City Park’ was conducted with AMC officials during the time of the audit. It was observed that the ‘City park’ was not made accessible to the general public as the main gate was locked and closed and was accessible through a bridge connected from the main building of the Aijal Club only.
Further, children’s play equipment worth Rs. 14 lakh like swings, slides, sand pit, children’s climbing wall, etc., which were approved in the detailed project report (DPR) were also not installed or constructed and Gate No. 2, approved in the DPR for construction at a cost of Rs. 3.02 lakh was not constructed.
Audit observed that signing of agreement by AMC with Aijal Club with complete relinquishment of any claim whatsoever on the park enabled the Club to frame its own restrictive rules of access to the park. Due to handover of the park to a private party, the aim of AMRUT to provide basic civic amenities like parks, etc., to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged was not fulfilled.
“Thus, the expenditure of Rs. 1.01 crore incurred was irregular as the benefits of the park were restricted to only the Club members and was not available to the general public which is against the guidelines of AMRUT scheme,” the audit report observed.
The matter was brought to the notice of the AMC and Government in September 2022. The Government while accepting the audit observation, stated in October 2022 that although City park is owned by the Aijal Club, it is accessible to the general public for holding a few exhibitions and fare-cum sale events.
Regarding the non-construction/ installation of children’s play equipment and gate No. 2, the Government stated that the fund allotted was utilised for other items of works.
However, the details of other items of works were not mentioned in the replies.
“The reply of the Government showed that the entry to the park is conditional and restrictive which is against the aim of AMRUT scheme which is to provide basic civic amenities to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. Further, there was diversion of scheme funds of Rs. 17.02 lakh for other purposes,” the report added.