CAG Comes Down Heavily On Odisha Forest Dept: ‘Unsuccessful Plantations, Wasteful Expenditure’

Bhubaneswar: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has come down heavily on Odisha’s Forest Department over unsuccessful plantations resulting in wasteful expenditure.

In its audit report placed in the Assembly on the concluding day of the Monsoon Session on Monday, the CAG said the Forest Department fell short of plantation targets that ranged from 11.98% to 50.89% between 2013-14 and 2017-18. The shortfall under centrally sponsored schemes such as MGNRGES ranged from 23% to 68%.

The Forest Department incurred wasteful expenditure worth Rs 13.17 crore as 191 out of 485 plantations were not successful due to poor selection of sites and delay in submission of proposals by Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs), the report said.

Against a target to take up plantation on over 8.8 lakh hectares, plantation was actually carried out on only 4.32 lakh hectares, a shortfall of 50.89%, the report said.

The CAG conducted the audit in 13 out of 49 forest divisions. Forest officers and CAG officials physically verified 41 plantations, of which 20 were unsuccessful and seven partially successful, resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 2.67 crore, the report said.

The provision of man days for urban plantations was fixed unreasonably higher, which led to avoidable extra expenditure of Rs 39.8 crore, it said.

Further, according to the CAG, the Forest Department’s plantation activities did not replenish degraded forest areas fully due to lack of database on degraded forest and non-forest land.

“Maximum number of trees were planted along roads while the degraded patches inside the forest area, which were inaccessible, were not taken up for plantation activity. Due to a lack of coordination with district administrations, information on degraded forest land and non-forest land was not available with the department. The planning procedure was limited to only instant data provided by field staff in a piecemeal manner. Annual targets on plantations were not compiled at the range and division level. The targets were set by the PCCF and communicated to respective divisions. This indicated a lack of coordinated planning by the ranges, divisions and forest headquarters,” a report in Hindustan Times, quoting from the CAG report, said.

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