NTRO nailed: CAG confirms gross irregularities

Whistleblower's complaints, RTI queries leads to disclosures about procurement, recruitment

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | March 5, 2012


Illustration: Ashish Asthana
Illustration: Ashish Asthana

If you wonder why our premier technical intelligence gathering agency, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), which was set up after the Kargil fiasco, has failed to take off and is in the news for all the wrong reasons – tapping phones of politicians and buying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth Rs 450 crore which is now lying as junk ¬– here is an official explanation.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has, for the first time, confirmed through two RTI replies what has always been widely known – that the NTRO is plagued by gross irregularities of all kinds in two crucial areas: (a) procurement of intelligence gathering equipment and (b) recruitment of staff.

The CAG has said: “We have noticed cases of appointment of ineligible candidates and lack of transparency in recruitment of regular employees of the NTRO.”

It also says: “We have noticed lack of transparency and non-compliance of rules and procedures in procurement of systems/stores/equipments and deficient procurement management resulting in cases of excess payment/wasteful expenditure/loss to exchequer”.

The damning revelations comes through two RTI applications filed by a whistleblower, VK Mittal, former joint secretary-level official who had to take premature retirement because his continuation became untenable after he started objecting to irregularities in procurements and recruitment.

There is another first to it. It was after Mittal’s complaints that the CAG was asked to carry out a “special audit” of NTRO, a first for any intelligence agency in the country.

The audit report was submitted to the national security advisor in February 2011 but it is yet to be made public or even submitted to the apex court where a PIL filed by Mittal is pending.

Mittal had complained that gross irregularities had been committed in buying crucial equipment like UAVs, in terms of inappropriate technologies leading to compromise in security and advance payment by violating the laid down procedures. These equipments are now a waste. Similarly, he had also pointed out how nepotism led to recruitment of staff – from joint secretary level down to the peons – unfit for the intelligence agency.

A direct fallout of the CAG’s first look into the NTRO’s affairs also led it to seek an audit of the accounts of premier external intelligence agency, RAW. The PMO has asked the CAG to look into RAW’s account after a meeting was held between the CAG, PMO and RAW a few weeks ago.
As per this direction, RAW’s internal audit report will be submitted to the CAG, along with an action taken report (ATR).

Interestingly, CAG has said in its RTI reply to Mittal that neither NTRO nor NSA has so far submitted an ATR in connection with the irregularities pointed out in its “special audit”. The relevant reply says: “As mentioned above, this office (CAG) has not received any information on action taken by NTRO/NSA on the special audit report”.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Making sense of facts – and alternative facts

The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599 Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of &ls

The Manali Trance: Economics of Abandoning Caution in the Time of Coronavirus

The brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has left a significant death toll in its wake. Health experts advise that the imminent third wave can be delayed by following simple measures like wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing. However, near the end of the second wave, we witnesse

Govt considers fixing driving hrs of commercial vehicles

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has emphasised deciding driving hours for truck drivers of commercial vehicles, similar to pilots, to reduce fatigue-induced road accidents. In a Na

Telecom department simplifies KYC processes for mobile users

In a step towards Telecom Reforms which aim to provide internet and tele connectivity for the marginalised section, the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communica

Mumbai think tank calls for climate action

Raising concerns over rising seawater levels and climate change, Mumbai First, a 25-year-old public-private partnership policy think tank, has written letters to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, minister for environment and climate change, tourism and protocol, Aditya Thackeray and Mumbai munic

Creation of ‘good bank’ as important as ‘bad bank’ for NPA management

After the recent announcement of the government guarantee for Security Receipts (SRs) to be issued by a public sector-owned National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), there is a surge of interest around this desi version of a super bad bank. The entity will acquire around ₹2 trillion bad debts fr

Visionary Talk: Gurcharan Das, Author, Commentator & Public Intellectual on key governance issues


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter