A new scam in West Bengal? The controversy surrounding Utilisation Certificate

A new scam in West Bengal? The controversy surrounding Utilisation Certificate

On 16th March this year, the West Bengal police detained BJP leader Indranil Khan for protesting against the non-submission of 3,94 lakh Utilisation Certificates (UCs) by the Mamata Banerjee-led-government.

Khan, the State President of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), sought accountability from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) dispensation of about 3.94 lakh pending UCs during ‘Yuva Adda’ programme held in Hazra More in Kolkata.

While the city police disrupted the event, it brought into focus allegations of misappropriation of funds to the tune of 2.94 lakh crores by the State government.

For those unaware of the matter, Utilisation Certificates are official documents issued by the government upon the completion of a project. These projects are undertaken across various governmental departments such as education, agriculture, health, urban development etc.

A UC is issued only after it is ensured that funds, sanctioned by the government on completion of a particular project, are utilised as intended.

Once the government submits a Utilisation Certificate, it tells the auditors that a project has been completed and that there has been no misappropriation of funds.

CAG report on West Bengal

In March 2022, the supreme audit institution ‘Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)’ tabled its 154-page report on West Bengal where it highlighted that the the TMC government did not submit a whopping 3,94,162 UCs till March 2021.

This is despite the fact that Rule 330A of the West Bengal Treasury Rules (WBTR) and Subsidiary Rules (SR) 1997, read with the Finance Department’s order (August 2005), makes it compulsory for the government to issue Utilisation Certificates within 1 year of release of funds.

CAG found that UCs for funds amounting to ₹2,29,099 crores have been outstanding till March 2021.

Age-wise arrears in the submission of Utilisation Certificate, table via Page 87 of the CAG Report 2020-2021

Page 87 of the report [pdf] states –

Audit scrutiny revealed that as of March 2021, a total of 3,94,162 UCs in respect of grants aggregating ₹2,29,099 crore had not been submitted.”

The CAG noted that between 2016-2017 and 2020-2021, the number of outstanding Utilisation Certificates of the West Bengal government increased by 59.91% while the associated pending amount increased by 87.77%

“…There has been no improvement as number of pending UCs and the amount increased by 59.91 per cent and 87.77 per cent respectively, over that reported in the Audit Report of 2016-17 (2,46,484 UCs for ₹1,22,008 crore),” the supreme audit institution emphasised.

Year-wise breakup of outstanding Utilisation Certificates, table via Page 88 of the CAG Report 2020-2021

On page 88 of the report, CAG pointed out that the pending Utilisation Certificates during the 2018-2021 period accounted for a whopping 49.54% of the total amount of all outstanding UCs.

It stated that the West Bengal government did not submit the majority of its Utilisation Certificates, relating to the Departments of Panchayat and Rural Development (₹81,839 crores), School Education (₹36850 crores) and Urban Development & Municipal Affairs (₹30,693 30,693 crores).

Outstanding UCs of these three departments accounted for 39.30 per cent of the total UCs outstanding and 65.20 per cent of the total outstanding amount,” CAG underlined.

The outstanding amount of UCs in 8 departments since 2002-03, chart via Page 88 of the CAG Report 2020-2021

Concerns and Recommendations of CAG

On pages 88 and 89 of its 2020-2021 report, the supreme audit institution noted that pendency in submitting outstanding Utilisation Certificates could risk the possibility of misappropriation of funds sanctioned by the West Bengal government.

In the absence of UCs, it could not be ascertained whether the recipients had utilised the grants for the purposes for which these were given. This assumes greater importance as pendency in non-submission of UCs is fraught with the risk of misappropriation,” CAG stated.

On Page 125 of the report, it further urged the TMC dispensation, “The Government may ensure timely submission of utilisation certificates by the departments in respect of the grants released for specific purposes.

PIL alleges scam, BJP seeks accountability from TMC govt

In January 2023, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the Calcutta High Court, accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led-West Bengal government of spending ₹2.29 lakh crores without any documentation.

“A report submitted by the CAG of India for the year ended 31 March 2021 with respect to the finances of the State of West Bengal points out various glaring incongruities and irregularities which point towards the misappropriation and perpetration of a financial scam of massive proportions by which the public exchequer has been defrauded,” the petition read.

It added, “From the report of the CAG of India, it can be seen that UCs (Utilisation Certificates) to the tune of Rs 2,29,099 crore are yet to be received from various departments of the Government of West Bengal with the biggest defaulters being the Departments of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, School Education, Panchayat and Rural Development with each such Department failing to submit UCs to the extent of Rs 30,693 crore, Rs 36,850 crore, Rs 81,839 crore respectively. Thus, effectively Rs 2,29,099 crore of the public exchequer’s money have been spent without there being even an iota of any documentation such as UCS which are mandatorily required.

In the meantime, the leading Opposition party in West Bengal, BJP had accused the ruling TMC government of engaging in corruption, loot and scam. It had sought the whereabouts of the utilised funds (received from the Centre)and the reason for reluctance in submitting the utilisation certificates.

BJP leader Gaurav Bhatia had dubbed the non-submission of UCs as the ‘mother of all scams.’ Party President (West Bengal) Sukanta Majumdar remarked, “Her government has tried to loot public money everywhere. The CAG report is a slap on her government’s face and exposes it.”

Mamata govt blames BJP instead

After being cornered over the CAG report by the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the report was compiled by the saffron party.

“It is a total lie. The CAG had no information on what to write and what not to. It is a distorted fact and written by the BJP,” she claimed during a sit-in demonstration in February this year.

Later in the month, West Bengal Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika and Finance Secretary Manoj Panth held a press conference and alleged that the CAG report was fraught with discrepancies.

“The state government does not accept the CAG report. A total of 8 departments have been mentioned and it talks about two lakh twenty-nine thousand crore rupees. There has been a misunderstanding. The 2021 report mentions 20 years, meaning it’s a 20-year calculation. We cross-checked with eight departments, all submitted UC up to 2022,” Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika claimed.

Manoj Panth alleged, “If they were not getting UC for 20 years then why didn’t they say earlier…Its is a wrong report.” 

CAG rubbishes claims of the TMC govt

Following the press conference by two civil servants of West Bengal, The Print spoke to a senior official of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

While rubbishing the claims made by the TMC government and its secretaries, the official said, “The West Bengal government’s statements against the CAG report are seemingly more political than factual.”

He added, “UCs are issued by the state government, so naturally the data and documents are directly taken from the state for audit. So, if the UCs were submitted, the CAG wouldn’t report otherwise. There is no error.”

“Before a CAG report is submitted, it is scrutinised eight to nine times. There are three on-field and three office scrutinies. Every corresponding document is supplied for data in a report,” the official concluded.


The Mamata Banerjee-led-West Bengal government has been under the scanner over multiple scams, which took place under its regime since 2011.

TMC leaders have previously been involved in the Rose Valley scam, the teachers’ recruitment scam, the Sharda scam, the cow-smuggling scam and a coal scam.

As such, it will not come as a surprise if the misappropriation of funds is detected by investigative agencies as the underlying reason for the non-submission of 3,94,162 Utilisation Certificates for funds amounting to ₹2,29,099 crores.

With just a month away from the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to commence, the BJP is trying to corner the TMC dispensation over this particular case. The recent protest led by BJYM leader Indranil Khan was a part of the same political strategy.

Featured Image via Mint

The article was first published in OpIndia on 18th March 2024.