Horticulture Mission runs into rough weather in Arunachal
Itanagar: The ‘Horticulture Mission’, a centrally sponsored scheme in Arunachal Pradesh, has run into rough weather due to failure by the department to create horticulture gardens and raise crops, according to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
The report in its findings expressed doubt over the utilization of Rs 1.03 crore as government assistance by the department while implementing the scheme.
The union agriculture ministry is implementing the scheme in the North Eastern states for overall development of horticulture with the mission to improve the production and productivity of horticultural crops by harnessing the potential of the region.
The mission envisages plantation development programmes through addition of new areas under improved and recommended varieties, to meet current market demand through area expansion by coverage of large areas including the cost of planting materials under improved varieties of horticulture crops.
According to the report, the state government during February 2011 and March 2012 accorded administrative approval and sanctions of Rs 4 crore (Rs 2 crore in each sanctions) to 17 district horticulture officers (DHOs) for implementation of ‘area expansion’.
The amount was meant as assistance (50 per cent of unit cost) to the beneficiaries for creation of horticulture gardens (one hectare per beneficiary) and raising of crops. The beneficiary had to contribute 50 per cent of unit costs towards labour charges and locally available material, the report said.
“Records of four DHOs revealed that the necessary documents for substantiating actual distribution and utilization of inputs, creation of gardens, raising of crops and yield of crops were not maintained by any of the DHOs,” the report said.
It further added that data on increase in area and productivity attributable to gardens claimed to have been created with the help of assistance, which was required to be maintained according to the guidelines of the Mission, was also not made available.
“Utilization of inputs valued at Rs 1.03 crore claimed to have been provided to the beneficiaries could not be vouchsafed in audit,” the report said adding that the utilization of the amount under the programme remained doubtful.
The report said, the DHOs of Lohit and Changlang admitted the fact of non-maintenance of proper records, but without submitting any documentary evidence in support, contended that inputs issued to the beneficiaries along with their prescribed contributions were found to have been utilized during field visits and inspections by district office functionaries.