The CAG audit report has identified several discrepancies in State’s Estate Department, and the one among them is the disparity in hiring of Private houses by the department. The report says that the Department has not formulated any procedure for hiring of such houses.
The report has also identified disparity in rent calculation, stating that the Rent on cost of land had been calculated at the rate of 2 percent of the total cost of land in respect of private houses hired at Srinagar whereas it had been calculated at a rate of 6.5 per cent of the total cost of land in respect of private houses hired at Jammu.
According to the report tenders were not invited from interested private house owners to ensure transparent hiring and to benefit from competitiveness in rent rates.
“The Department had only invited offers from the interested private owners and rent of private houses was fixed by the Rent Assessment Committee of the Department. The Dy. Director Estates Srinagar is inviting offers from the interested private house owners every year for Srinagar while the Dy. Director Estates Jammu had for the first time invited offers during 2014-15,” the report said.
Audit analysis showed that of the 176 private houses hired by the Department in Srinagar and Jammu during 2014-15, only 21 houses were hired on the basis of offers received from various private owners and the remaining 155 were hired without receipt of any offers.
In test checked cases, Audit found that the houses were selected by the officers of the Department themselves before hiring. The process adopted thus was indicative of lack of transparency in hiring of private houses.
The report while quoting Director Estates said that offers for hiring of private houses were evaluated and considered as per requirement and that the houses were hired on the recommendations of Deputy Director Estates and after obtaining approval from the Competent Authority. The reply was, however, silent on hiring of 155 private houses without receipt of any offers.
The report said that review of records of assessments of rent of 64 private houses—selected on the basis of availability of complete papers of land, covered area and assessments of the Rent Assessment Committee—hired by the Department for providing accommodation to the officers, MLAs/ MLCs, offices etc. showed discrepancy in assessment of rent by the Rent Assessment Committee of the Department.