The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in India recently convened to receive a presentation on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report concerning the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ highway projects. This audit report, which was presented to Parliament on August 10, has sparked allegations of corruption in the project’s awarding process, leading to a political controversy.
During the meeting of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, sources indicated that a presentation on the recent CAG report related to the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ was made. The audit report pertains to the implementation of Phase-I of the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ highway projects and has become a subject of contention, with opposition parties leveling accusations of corruption in the project awarding procedure.
In response to the allegations, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has asserted that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings, which suggest exorbitant costs, are misguided as they fail to consider the actual expenses incurred. This discrepancy in assessments has further fueled the political debate surrounding the project.
The presentation on the CAG report took place during the PAC’s meeting on Tuesday, shedding light on the audit’s findings and their potential implications. However, it’s important to note that the report will not be immediately examined by the committee.
As per the established procedure, following the tabling of the report, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was granted a 30-day window to provide a draft Action Taken Note in response to the CAG’s observations. Subsequently, the CAG will have an additional 30 days to review the ministry’s responses, seek further clarifications if necessary, and vet the submissions.
The examination of the CAG’s report by the Public Accounts Committee will occur once this procedural process has been completed. At this stage, opposition members have expressed their concerns regarding the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ report, but the actual examination will be conducted in due course, following the completion of the specified timelines for responses and clarifications.
The ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ is a significant infrastructure development project aimed at enhancing India’s highway network. However, the recent controversies and allegations of corruption have cast a shadow over its implementation. The presentation of the CAG report to the Public Accounts Committee marks a crucial step in the ongoing scrutiny of this high-profile project, with the potential for far-reaching implications depending on the findings and conclusions of the audit.