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CAG hints at a scam in the environment ministry
November, 29th 2010

The Comptroller and Auditor General on Friday hinted at a scam in the environment ministry, saying non-government organisations swindled 96% of the money meant for planting trees, the ministry has no record of how Rs 600 crore was spent in the last 20 years and failed to provide India a list of endangered species despite setting up a separate body for the same.

The Environment Audit Report, done for the first time, indicts the ministry for failing to fulfil its mandate.

It (the ministry) had failed to implement the vision for which it was created, said deputy comptroller and auditor general Rekha Gupta.

The proportion of the irregularities reported is high, considering the ministrys budget in 2008-09 was Rs 1,711 crore. More than money, the ministry is primarily responsible for enforcing environment regulations, where the CAG says it has failed citing resource crunch and shortage of trained manpower.

The National Biodiversity Authority established in 2003 for sustainable use of bio-resources failed to notify important regulations for the same.

Tree plantation
Of the 647 afforestation projects approved between 2003-08, only 3.57% have been completed. The Greening India scheme failed to increase tree cover as the ministry failed to set a target.

Indira Gandhi vision
Indira Gandhi had envisaged a National Museum for National History to create environment awareness, which is in a shambles. The museum has not been updated for the last 20 years.
It does not justify the label of being a national museum, Raj Vishwanathan, a CAG officer, said.

Pollution abatement
The CAG found that works related to eco-city programme in six cities, started in early 2000, remained incomplete even after spending Rs 30 crore.

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