The comptroller and auditor general (CAG) has asked the Haryana government to consider fixing responsibility of those who allowed unauthorised use of government land for playing golf.
In its report on social, general and economic sectors (non-PSUs) ending March 2019, the CAG said the golf course developed on a piece of government land with government resources at third battalion, Haryana Armed Police (HAP), Hisar, was allowed for use by private persons in an unauthorised manner for more than five years. Also, revenue to the tune of ₹80.87 lakh generated by its management committee was kept outside the government account, the audit said.
The CAG said that Section 3(a) of the Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act, states that a person shall be deemed to be in unauthorised occupation of any public premises if he enters into possession thereof otherwise than under and in pursuance of any allotment, lease or grant.
Section 3(c)(i) of the Act and rule 3.29 of Punjab Police Rules prohibit the use/lease of public premises without government permission. Rule 4.1 of the Punjab Financial Rules (PFR) provide that the departmental controlling officers should see that all sums due to government are regularly and promptly assessed, realised and credited into the treasury.
Govt resources used for paying power and water charges
The third battalion, HAP, Hisar, occupied 83 acres and imparted training to newly recruited police constables. Of the 83 acres, the commandant, third battalion developed a golf course in 55 acres with the approval of the DGP and formally started the golf course in October 2010 under the name of Haryana Armed Police Green Golf Course.
In November 2013, the golf course was opened to private persons by allowing membership. Private persons were made members to make the course self-sustainable and for generating funds for its upkeep. A managing committee, chaired by the inspector general (IG), Hisar range, was also set up for managing the affairs of the golf course like a private enterprise. The managing committee generated and retained revenue of ₹80.87 lakh up to December 2018 as membership and maintenance fee, whereas government resources were used on payment of electricity and water charges and deployment of manpower for operation and maintenance of the golf course, the report said.
“Managing the affairs of the golf course through a managing committee and allowing membership to private persons tantamount to leasing it out to a private body as permission from the government was not obtained for constructing the golf course on its land and funds generated by the body were being kept outside the government account and were spent by the body without following the government rules and regulations,” the audit said.
In April 2019, the DGP replied that membership fee and maintenance charges were being deposited in a separate bank account and were managed by a committee headed by IG, Hisar range, and the operation of this account was done as per procedure prescribed in the club’s constitution. All expenditures were incurred strictly as per constitution of the club, the DGP’s reply said.
Golf course leased out without approval
The CAG, however, said the reply was not tenable as funds generated by way of membership and maintenance fee were kept out of the consolidated fund of the state without specific authorisation. Further, government resources were being used for the operation and maintenance of golf course as payments of electricity and water charges were made from government funds and police manpower was deployed for development of the golf course, the audit said.
“Thus, the golf course was leased out to a private body without specific approval of the government by violating provisions of the Haryana Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act and was under unauthorised use of a private body for more than five years. More than two-thirds of the area allotted for the battalion by the government was used for the golf course, without payment of any lease money to the government. The action of the police department was in violation of extant government rules and regulation,” the CAG said.
The matter was referred to the state government in March 2019 and subsequent reminders were issued in June 2019 and May 2020. The government reply was awaited, the audit report said.