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The state’s finance department has blamed public works, irrigation (which is now known as water resource) and forest departments for spending more than what they have been allocated. Photo: PTI  (PTI )
The state’s finance department has blamed public works, irrigation (which is now known as water resource) and forest departments for spending more than what they have been allocated. Photo: PTI

(PTI )

Maharashtra looks to banks to curb spends

Public works, irrigation, forest wings told to submit quarterly spend estimates, banks to ensure they do not overspend

Mumbai: In a unique move, the finance ministry in Maharashtra has sought help from commercial banks to keep a tab on spendings of the public works, irrigation and forest departments.

In a notification dated 26 November, the state’s finance department has blamed public works, irrigation (which is now known as water resource) and forest departments for spending more than what they have been allocated and “misusing" the so-called budget, estimation and allocation monitoring system (BEAMS). It has sought help from the Reserve Bank of India, State Bank of India and State Bank of Hyderabad to keep a watch over spending by these departments.

The notification, reviewed by Mint, points out, “after introduction of the BEAMS, such departments have to first mention the details of the transaction on the BEAMS website from where they would get an authorization slip for the amount required to issue cheques. The slip number has to be written on the back of the cheque and the cheque number has to be put on the authorization slip. But it is found that this procedure was misused and huge amount of grants were withdrawn by putting fictitious authorization slip numbers on cheques".

The notification also directs these three departments to submit estimates of their quarterly expenditure to these banks and asks the banks to ensure that these departments do not spend more than the quarterly estimates.

Repeated calls and text messages to public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal and revenue and forest minister Patangrao Kadam remained unanswered. Irrigation (water resource) minister Sunil Tatkare said, “I have not seen this notification but no department can spend more than what is allocated to in budget or through supplementary demands and finally funds are released by the finance department."

Columnist and analyst Hemant Desai said, “It clearly shows government has lost control over its own department and each department is behaving like a law unto themselves."

Devendra Fadanvis, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of legislative assembly said, “This is nothing but fraud and the government should immediately take steps and start criminal proceedings against those who are involved in such fraudulent transactions."

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