Thursday, April 19, 2007

CSIR drains taxpayers money

The building, presiding over 39 laboratories, at Rafi Marg in New Delhi is country's biggest scientific and industrial research establishment.

With an annual turnover of more than Rs 1,200 crore, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has almost 20,000 scientists working for it. But the scientific community says carrying on research is now becoming difficult.

"The merits of the scientists are not properly considered by the DG in so many aspects. Secondly, there are so many grievances among the scientists and there is no mechanism to solve the grievances," says CSIR scientist Prof Pillai.

"I think there are too much of corporate culture being brought into the CSIR rather than scientific culture," said former planning chief of CSIR Prof Rehman.

CAG reports of last six years reveal that utilisation of funds and technology has not been optimum.

According to Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG): In the year 2000 the Lab Reserve Fund created for research and development was misused for paying up phone bills of directors, lunches, and foreign trips.

In the year 2001, there was excessive manpower cost of 4.25 crore. 2002's CAG report again highlights wasteful expenditure on purchase of equipment.

The CAG's report in 2003 indicates that of the 984 technologies developed 607 were not transferred to industrial use and CSIR sustained a loss of 99.31 lakhs.

And in all three years after that, (2004, 2005 and 2006) CSIR is accused of wasteful expenditure in the procurement of equipments, which has still not been installed.

But Director General of CSIR says such losses are inevitable in a scientific establishment like this. And the auditing report has to be seen in this light.
"I have all the respect for the CAG but auditing of a scientific establishment cannot be the same as for an industrial enterprise. There has to be an understanding also in terms of how scientific research institutions work. Therefore, I had a free and fair discussion with the CAG, basically on creating different types of audit systems, which will understand essence and ethos of science," said now retired DG CSIR Dr R A Mashelkar.

This matter has been taken to the Supreme Court by the Scientific Workers Association but the Science and Technology Minister assures of transparency.

"Where there is optimal use, misuse is inevitable. So, I think we should have systems in place to make things more transparent," says Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal.
Science and Technology Minister seems to brush the real issue under the carpet, but the management should be put in place to provide accountability of crores of rupees put in by taxpayers.


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