Rs 2 cr 'pensions' to 2,103 dead beneficiaries, Rs 2.8 cr diverted for publicity: CAG
The death of beneficiaries was not being reported by gram panchayats or municipalities in a timely manner in case of 23 states and UTs
The Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) made payment of pensions amounting Rs 2 crore to 2,103 National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) beneficiaries in 26 states and Union Territories even after their death, and funds worth Rs 2.83 crore were diverted for publicity and campaign, the Comptroller Auditor General of India has said in its report.
The CAG report, on the performance audit of the NSAP from 2017-18 to 2020-21, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The report said that according to NSAP guidelines, a pensioner’s pension may be discontinued due to death or migration or crossing BPL or any other reason and the pension payment should be stopped accordingly.
It said that further, gram panchayats or municipalities shall report every case of death of a pensioner to the designated Sanctioning Authority.
"Non-reporting of death leads to continuation of pension even after the death of the beneficiary leading to irregular payment of pension," it said.
The death of beneficiaries was not being reported by gram panchayats or municipalities in a timely manner in case of 23 states and UTs of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Sikkim, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.
"In 26 States and UTs, payment of pension amounting to Rs two crore was made in case of 2,103 beneficiaries even after the death of NSAP beneficiaries," the report flagged.
The report said that in West Bengal 453 beneficiaries got Rs 83.27 lakh, in Gujarat 413 beneficiaries worth 11.83 lakh and 250 beneficiaries in Tripura got Rs 1.83 lakh even after their death.
"During the course of the beneficiary survey, it was observed that in case of 290 out of 8,461 beneficiaries, the pension payment was continued even after death of the beneficiaries. This indicated that the reporting of death and stopping of pension was not being done as required as per NSAP guidelines," the CAG report said.
Non-reporting of deaths of NSAP beneficiaries by gram panchayats or municipalities to the concerned authorities in a timely manner resulted in irregular payment of pension. This needs to be addressed with measures like submission of life certificates, etc., to avoid continuation of pension payment after death of the beneficiaries, it said.
The CAG report also flagged that MoRD diverted funds from the NSAP which includes old age pension schemes, for publicising some of its other schemes.
It said that the allocation under NSAP to the states and UTs were meant for disbursal of pension under various sub-schemes of NSAP.
"Out of the total allocation to a State/UT, three per cent fund was meant for administrative expenditure. During audit instances of diversion of funds by the Ministry and States and UTs out of allocated funds for NSAP were noticed.
"The MoRD in January 2017 decided to campaign through hoardings in States and UTs for giving due publicity to all programmes and schemes of the Ministry.
"Administrative approval and financial sanction of Rs 39.15 lakh was taken (June 2017) for a publicity campaign through hoardings with a limit of 10 hoardings at each capital city of the state and UT," the report said.
It further said that the administrative approval and expenditure sanction of Rs 2.44 crore was taken (August 2017) for campaigning in Gram Samridhi, Swachh Bharat Pakhawada, and the publicity material of multiple schemes of the Ministry through five hoardings in each district for 19 States.
The report said that work orders were issued to DAVP in June and September 2017. Publicity campaigns were to be undertaken in September 2017.
The funds for the said campaign were stated to be available under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and were approved by the competent authority to be incurred under the same head.
"However, the audit observed that funds were actually incurred from social security welfare-NSAP schemes," it said.
However, the advertisement of only PMAY-G and DDU-GKY schemes were mentioned in the work order and no schemes of NSAP were included in the work order, it said.
It also said that the campaigns were to be undertaken by DAVP under intimation to the department; however, the payment to DAVP was made without confirmation of the execution of the work.
"Hence, planned IEC activities under NSAP were not undertaken as envisaged and funds of Rs 2.83 crore were diverted for campaigning in respect of other schemes of the Ministry," the CAG report said.
"Hence, IEC activities intended to create awareness among potential beneficiaries of NSAP could not be taken up even though there was earmarking of funds for IEC activities," it added.
The report also said that the Ministry in its reply in December 2022 stated that the matter has been taken up with the IEC division of the Department.