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Scam hits Space Department

The department of space (DoS) basking in the glory of Chandrayaan-1 has rampantly violated official rules and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines in the last seven years in purchasing goods worth Rs 8,600 crore, ranging from satellite and rocket components to furniture.

Owing to serious flaws in the DoS purchaing system, the Central exchequer has lost crores since 2001-02, and the government rules and guidelines have been given a go-by in the name of space science.The revelation has come out in a performance audit carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Tabled in the Parliament on Friday, it is the first detailed performance audit for the DOS since 1986. One of the most astounding instances of flawed purchase practices is giving away advances to suppliers. In the last seven years, DOS has given away almost Rs 438 crore as advance to its suppliers in complete violation of the CVC guidelines.

In 163 cases, advances were given more than 15 years ago, but the bills have not been settled so far. In 242 cases, advances were paid 5-15 years ago, but final products have not been delivered. “In some cases there are disputes.

In other cases supply is pending and surprisingly the DoS has not charged interests in any of these advances despite CVC instructions,” sources told Deccan Herald. Giving away advances in the first place is against the CVC guidelines, which make it amply clear that advance payments should be made only when the monopolistic firms insist and where lead-time is long and considerable investments by the supplier firms are necessary.

But, the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bangalore, Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, and Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Valiamala made advance payments in a “routine and liberal manner without documenting any reasons”, says the report.The DOS units also did not care for obtaining “bank guarantees” before making the payments, even as the DOS’s own purchase rule suggests so.

In 138 ISAC cases (Rs 64.14 crore), bank guarantee expired and in nine SAC cases, the guarantee (Rs 19.51 crore) had already lapsed though the advances were still outstanding.The CAG report shows that the DOS laboratories took the “proprietary” and “single tender” routes even to procure routine items like crystal oscillators, DC-DC converters and arsenic silicon integrated circuits (ASIC) for which multiple vendors exist. DOS went for public tendering in only four per cent cases.

But believe it or not, the SAC has taken the “proprietary route” to purchase furniture from Godrej and Boyce. “One can understand buying critical technologies, which will be proprietary. But, why the proprietary route for Godrej furniture,” asks an official.In numerous cases, the DOS laboratories did not club their requirement and ended up buying the same component from different vendors at different prices. Also, the stores were not checked properly leading to repetitive buying of the same item.

The SAC admitted that such things happened because different divisions did not have an idea regarding the kind of projects others were implementing and what they had purchased.

Source:Deccan Herald


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