The Indian Navy has come under fire from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The national auditor criticised the navy for wasteful expenditure worth over Rs 40 crore on three counts. It said the navy incurred an 'unfruitful expenditure' of Rs 33.91 crore on dredging maintenance at its biggest command – the western command at Mumbai during peak monsoon season.
A 'wasteful' expenditure of Rs 6 crore on the short refit of coast guard ship Vikram and incorrect payment of Rs 10.24 lakh as 'dip money' to divers were the other two counts. On dredging, the CAG observed that a delay in contract finalisation led the navy to undertake dredging in peak monsoon, which, rendered an expenditure of '33.91 crore unfruitful. Dredging maintenance is undertaken annually to maintain a minimum depth in naval channels and areas for the safe navigation of ships, submarines and other crafts.
The CAG's latest report was tabled in Parliament on Friday. It said the dredging contract between the Western Naval Command and M/s Dharti Dredging and Infrastructure Ltd showed "the rates accepted for dredging were very high". "Our further scrutiny in March 2013 revealed that dredging for the next year had to commence immediately, within six months of the previous dredging, which clearly indicated that dredging in monsoon had not served its purpose and the expenditure incurred was sub-optimal," the report said.
The CAG also came down heavily on the navy for making false claims on 'dip money' and held weak internal controls and falsification of official records responsible. The CAG said all qualified divers of the navy belong to a specialised cadre and are entitled to diving allowance and what's called dip money. The Indian Naval Diving Team (INDT), Delhi, is equipped with one re-compressed chamber for practice diving. It has only an eight-diver capacity.
However, between September 2008 and July 2011, on more than one occasion, nine to 65 divers were said to have practised in the chamber. Weak internal controls, improper document maintenance and falsification of official records at INDT led to an incorrect payment of Rs 10.24 lakh as dip money.
The CAG also pointed towards the avoidable expenditure of about Rs 6 crore on the short refit of the Coast Guard ship Vikram. Lack of co-ordination between two directorates were behind this, the report said.
As per Coast Guard instructions for ships awaiting decommissioning/disposal, only essential repairs, termed Essential Repairs Dry Docking, should be undertaken. But an expensive short refit was done on Vikram between July 2010 and December 2010, at a cost of '5.66 crore on Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Vikram. It was undertaken despite the fact that Vikram was scheduled for de-commissioning in 2010.