HP NEWS SERVICE
Shillong, Jul 3: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Meghalaya Assembly said today that schemes meant for farmers should not be given out randomly, but only after proper scrutiny of the beneficiaries is done.
“The agriculture department should look for sustainability and working capital should be an important factor,” Congress legislator from Umroi and PAC member, George B. Lyngdoh said.
According to Lyngdoh, certain groups of farmers should be selected to ensure that the schemes are sustainable.
Another PAC member and Congress MLA from Mawsynram, Himalaya Shangpliang informed that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had inspected a plant nursery in East Khasi Hills and found out that it was abandoned and five out of the seven pigsties in East Khasi Hills were found without pigs and another in Garo Hills was in the same condition.
The PAC also took note of the fact that the horticulture department failed in utilising an amount of Rs 38 crore awarded by the 13th Finance Commission sanctioned in 2007.
Shangpliang informed that out of the Rs 38 crore, an amount of Rs 19 crore was released by the Finance Commission.
“However, only Rs 7.36 crore expenditure was incurred by the horticulture department resulting in the Centre stopping the release of Rs 19 crore due to delay on the part of the department in submitting utilisation certificate,” he informed.
According to Shangpliang, the department had come up with a Planting Material Hub (PMH) project which includes floriculture PMH project in Upper Shillong where Rs 80 lakh was released, potato PMH project at Upper Shillong where Rs 70 lakh was released, temperate fruits PMH at Fruit Garden in Shillong where Rs 150 lakh was released and a cashew nut PMH at Garo Hills where Rs 150 lakh was released.
Shangpliang informed that when the PAC cross checked it was found that the department had not created the baseline survey and also failed to obtain certification from the National Horticulture Board thereby depriving the State of the full amount awarded by the 13th Finance Commission.
Meanwhile, the PAC also questioned the agriculture department on the sharp reduction in production of maize in Ri-Bhoi, West Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills.
“We have asked the department to conduct a study and submit a report to the committee as maize is a prime crop of the State,” Shangpliang said.
He also informed that the agriculture department had to refund an amount of Rs 9 crore to the government since it could not utilise it for farmers’ welfare.
The PAC member said that the amount was meant as subsidies for purchasing power tillers by the farmers, pest management, training for farmers and various other purposes.
He also mentioned that the agriculture department had failed to implement the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas or NWDPRA which was 100 percent centrally funded and launched in 1990-1991.