PROBE AUROVILLE’s MATRIMANDIR SCAM

OPEN LETTER TO HUMAN RESOURCES MINISTER MR.ARJUN SINGH and

AUROVILLE FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN DR.KARAN SINGH ON MATRIMANDIR SCAM

 

The Indian citizen is the Supreme authority in Indian democracy. To empower Indian citizens with powers to act as checks and balances against misuse of power, the greatest achievement, is armoring the Indian citizen with a Right to Information Act. Auroville Foundation is answerable to Indian Parliament; thereby it implies it is bound to answer any Indian citizen. Under Right to Information Act, as per the website of Auroville Foundation, in past three years only one had asked information, but they say that application is disposed of instead of being transparent whether answer is provided or not. All other years only “Nil” is shown against  all columns. Hence I had sought information, and awaiting answers, since the stipulated time to reply has not come to an end.

 

Matrimandir, the temple which is being built from 1971 to 2008, yet to get completed, is one of the main areas, where Indian Human Resources Development Minister Mr.Arjun Singh must focus his attention. We in South India know that one Golden Temple had come up in Vellore and another in Andhra Pradesh borders, built by Indian God-men. We wonder why the foreign brains which live under the illusion they are superior on Earth had not completed the Matrimandir for nearly 37 years. We suspect corruption. To substantiate our suspicion, we are quoting in verbatim the concerned pages regarding Matrimandir prepared by Institute of Public Auditors of India, as internal audit. We urge that in Foundation’s website the Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, since Auroville Foundation Act came into existence, should be uploaded, after all this Institution is not for foreigners and by the foreigners. The Chairman must answer, or the Secretary of the Foundation must answer to Indian public, and they cannot shirk responsibility and pass the buck to some foreigner, who is not answerable to Indian Parliament. This is the first of the 100 Questions we will raise for generating awareness about the happenings in Auroville and to ensure Government of India intervenes to effect amendment to Act and initiate corrective measures.

 

N.Nandhivarman

 

General Secretary Dravida Peravai

39 Montorsier Street, Puducherry 605001.

 

 

3.17    MATRIMANDIR

 

             The Matrimandir, a huge sphere which contains a white chamber in which sun light pours down upon a glass globe, is both the geographical and spiritual centre of Auroville.  The Matrimandir is a place of silence and concentration.  The Mother approved the model of Matrimandir and the foundation stone there for was laid on the 21st February 1971.  The major areas of work on the structure are under completion and attention is being given to the development of surrounding garden and a lake. Completion of main structure alone (sans lake and garden) is scheduled for completion in February 2007.  The Matrimandir together with its gardens extends over an area of 28 ha.  Mr. Roger Anger a close disciple of Mother has been named by her as Chief Architect of Auroville Town Ship and Matrimandir.  It was stated The Mother has explained her vision of Matrimandir to Mr. Roger Anger and Matrimandir is being executed as per her vision.

 

            A perusal of records made available revealed the following:

 

a)        No Master plan based on Mother’s vision detailing implementation and monitoring mechanism, mobilization of resources, time schedule for completion etc. has been prepared for systematic and speedy execution of the project. 

 

b)        Before a project is taken up for execution, a project report is to be prepared  containing inter alia,

 

i)                    detailed estimate indicating the nature and volume of work to be done.  This should be supported by designs, plans and other related documents.

ii)                  The approximate cost of execution based on the above estimates indicating the cost of the materials to be purchased, labour charges to be incurred and administrative / other incidental expenses.  The rates adopted would be supported by schedule of rates prevailing in the locality; and

iii)                The time schedule for the completion of each activity and the project as a whole.

 

Once this is prepared, this should be scrutinized by a competent technical authority who would examine its technical viability and its cost effectiveness. After the technical sanction, financial sanction of the nominated authority is to be obtained before the work is taken up. 

 

c) It is observed that no such procedural formalities indicated in (b) above were adhered in the case of Matirmandir. 

 

            It is observed that the Matirmandir project cost would work out to several crores of rupees.  A sum of Rs. 26.60 crores has been spent on the project to end of March 2005.

 

d)  In spite of the huge volume of work and cost involved no detailed procedure has been laid down for preparation of estimates, getting technical and financial sanctions, fixing norms for calling for tenders/quotations and placing of purchase orders for procurement of materials, etc.  The system of maintaining Measurement Books to record, measure and check measure the work done, which is a requisite in the execution of civil works is also not in vogue.

 

            On 26th August 2003 the Matrimandir core group appointed a Consultant Engineer for Matrimandir Project and decided that henceforth all work proposals should be presented to the core group after they are approved by the Consultant Engineer.  The Consultant Engineer desired that all work proposals sent to him for approval should be accompanied by:

i)                    sketches/drawings approved by Shri Roger Anger, Chief Architect or site architects.

ii)                  detailed estimated quantities of various items of work

iii)                detailed financial estimates supported by enquiries, quotations etc.

The Consultant Engineer also named three site engineers for the project.   

 

            In July 2004 a cost estimate for completing the remaining works of Matrimandir building structure at cost of Rs.506 lakhs was prepared.  It could not be ensured whether the approval of Consultant Engineer was obtained after following the above procedure laid down by him as the relevant records were not made available for verification.

 

            It is observed that there was no provision in the estimate to incur expenditure on “Water proofing of hemisphere”.  However, an expenditure of Rs.32.03 lakhs has been incurred to the end of October, 2005 on this item of work.  Further, there was an excess expenditure over the provisions made in the estimate to an extent of Rs.62.30 lakhs to the end of October 2005 in respect of other items.

 

            It is observed that monetary resources were not a constraint in the execution of the project as seen below:-

 

Year            Fixed         Donations received            Expenditure

                     Deposits      (Foreign & Indian)

 

2000-01          75.16 lakhs            3.31 crores                                2.99 crores

2001-02         88.17                        1.84                                       1.71   

2002-03         89.02                        1.36                                       1.20   

2003-04         95.39                        1.99                                       1.33   

2004-05         68.57                         2.41                                       3.23   

 

            The work started in February 1971 involving an investment of Rs.26.60 Crores up to the end of March 2005 still remains incomplete and the Mother’s wish that “the Matrimandir will be the soul of Auroville” is yet to fructify even after 34 years.

 

Other observations:

a)     Refund of customs duty not obtained  – loss of Rs.27.68 lakhs.

 

Matrimandir is eligible to import goods without the payment of customs duty on the production of essentiality certificate.  It is observed that the goods were cleared by paying customs duty due to delay in the receipt of essentiality certificates from DSIR of Science and Technology Ministry, as non-clearance of goods would result in payment of demurrage charges.  Under Section 27 of Customs Act, one year time is allowed in such cases for filing applications for the refund of customs duty already paid.  In the case of materials  listed out in annexure, it is observed that the Matrimandir lost a sum of Rs.27.68 lakhs on account of

(i)         belated receipt of essentiality certificates and

belated filing of return for refund                                          Rs.   1,94,124

(ii)        essentiality certificate recd. in time but filed belatedly      Rs.   8,50,954

(iii)       essentiality certificate applied for in 1999-2000

but not received so far                                                          Rs.  17,22,459

                                                                        Total                            Rs.  27,67,537

 

There is no mechanism for effective follow up of receipt of essentiality certificates and refund claims.

 

b)  Non-Maintenance of FC 6 Register.

            As per FERA, organizations receiving foreign donations in kind should maintain a separate stock register of such donations in FC 6 format.  It is however, observed that Matrimandir receiving foreign contributions in kind directly is not maintaining FC 6 register.  Further there is no system of intimating the receipt of foreign contributions in kind to Auroville Fund (Foreign Contribution Acccount) which complies FC 3 return of foreign contributions received in Auroville for submission to Government of India.  As a result foreign contributions of Rs.12.09 lakhs received in kind during 2003-04 to 2005-06 did not figure in the FC 3 returns of respective years.

 

c)  Non-releasing of funds.

Foreign and Indian contributions received for Matrimandir during 2004-05 were not released to Matrimandir in full.

                                                                              Received                  Released

                                                                                          Rs.                     Rs.

 

Foreign contributions                                          98,62,282                   65,91,770

Indian contributions                                             96,74,503                   49,73,661 *

 

*including Rs.60,660 relating to 2003-04

           

The reasons for short release of funds are not on record.  Matrimandir is also not being informed about the total contributions received so that is could plan the execution of works in time.   

 

d) Gliding Equipment returned not reflected in the accounts.

On the recommendation of FAMC a gliding equipment with accessories worth of Rs.8,00,806 received was returned in 2003-04 to the donor as they are not required at Matrimandir. However, this Transaction was not reflected in the accounts for the year 2003-04.

 

e) Materials lying outside Auroville not reflected in the accounts.

A perusal of the Balance Sheet as at 31.03.2005 revealed that an amount of Rs.3,50,000 advanced to M/s Hindustan Safety Glass Ltd. paid on 24.04.1998 was shown as outstanding advance and the value of materials amounting to Rs.9,30,909 unloaded on 20.09.1997 at the premises of the company has not been disclosed in the accounts.

 

f)  Depreciation of assets

Matrimandir has been under construction from 1971 and the work is still in progress as it involved different kinds of works viz. Inner Chamber, Inner skin, construction of petals, completion peace trees, etc.  The cumulative cost of this project from 1971 amounted to Rs.26.60 crores as on 31.03.2005 and no depreciation has been provided on this asset.  Though the project has not been completed as a whole and in principle no depreciation is chargeable, the assets created during the last 34 years would be subject to wear and tear due to efflux of time.  Hence, non-provision of depreciation is not in accordance with the generally accounting principles.

 

g) Banking transations

 

i)  As per Auroville Foundation Rules, 1997 all monies are to be kept in a bank account with State Bank of India.  It is however, observed that Matrimandir is having bank account with Karur Vysya Bank, Vysya Bank, and State Bank of India which is against the Rules of the Foundation.

 

ii)  It is observed that Matrimandir requested the Foundation Office on  11.08.2004, to release a sum of Rs.25,00,000/-.   As there was no sufficient funds in the account of Foundation, over draft facility was availed and Rs.25 lakhs was released to Matrimandir.  For availing the overdraft the Foundation incurred an interest of Rs.47,470. It is however, seen that on 14.08.2004 Matrimandir deposited this sum of Rs.25 lakhs  in one of its bank account for 3 months.  Obtaining an over draft and depositing the same in term deposit account is not justified.

 

iii)  It is also observed that moneys were transferred from one account to another in the last week of a month vide instances given below:-

 

Date of Transfer   Amount Transferred      Balance available

                            From Karur Vysa Bank                  Date             with S.B.I.

                            To S.B.I (Rs.)        

 

27.05.2004                1,50,000                                 31.05.2004                2,25,634

30.07.2004                1,50,000                                 31.07.2004                1,75,700

27.08.2004                2,50,000                                 31.08.2004                2,72,655

 

Note:  There were no transactions in between these dates.

 

            As transfer of funds after 10th of every month results in foregoing interest such transfers are to be avoided except in case of actual need.

 

For Institute of Public Auditors of India

Dated: March 22, 2006

(John Varghese)

Secretary, Chennai Chapter

 

 

4 thoughts on “PROBE AUROVILLE’s MATRIMANDIR SCAM

  1. mallikacute

    Large amounts were stolen by the former treasurer of Matrimandir: a French man who calls himself “Divakar”. The scam was very easy to discover as Divakar, contrary to India’s laws, didnot keep the bills for most expenses. No bills! A former Police Liason officer of Auroville publicly accused this French man of siphoning of huge amounts, and called for a thorough investigation of Divakar’s criminal activity.

    The donors to Matrimandir were not informed that the crores were stolen!

    Divakar, who never pays the Indian income tax, does not have a job, officially “no income”, now enjoys a very rich lifestyle, often travels around the globe, stays in 5-star hotels, buys very costly gifts for his friends and girlfriends. How?

  2. Pingback: Auroville…..Hype or Reality | thatoneframe

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