The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has disclosed that the government has incurred a loss of Rs. 78 million due to a failed project for the construction of a radar system provided by the World Meteorological Organization in Gongala area.
This was brought to light when the Department of Meteorology (DOM) officials appeared before the COPA meeting earlier this week under the chairmanship of State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna to examine the auditor general’s report and current performance for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Through this project implemented in 2008, approximately Rs. 402 million had been spent on the said radar system and Rs. 323 million had been given by the World Meteorological Organization.
It was also disclosed that before bringing this project to Sri Lanka, an officer of the DOM had inspected this machine and informed them not to bring it to Sri Lanka as it was not in working condition.
Officials of the Auditor General’s Department stated that many years have passed for the preparation of a road to the relevant location and the equipment has become obsolete. They then pointed out that due to the collapse of the crane carrying this and the road, some equipment has been destroyed and the rest of the equipment is missing.
It was disclosed that investigations by the police and the Bribery and Corruption Commission are underway. Therefore, the COPA emphasized the need for effective projects to be implemented quickly by the Meteorology Department to provide accurate forecasts with modern technology instead of such projects which have incurred huge losses and have completely failed.
Inquiries were made regarding the existing reports about the current drought situation not being accurately predicted.
The DOM Director General said that he was informed about this during the Monsoon discussions held last April with the Irrigation Department, Mahaweli Authority and related government institutions and other regional countries.
However, the COPA pointed out that the relevant institutions did not provide them with the relevant information, so until the situation is resolved through an Act, a Cabinet decision or a joint mechanism should be prepared with all the relevant institutions. It was also instructed to report to the COPA in this regard within a month.
The COPA also looked into whether there was data on the progress made in achieving the published predictions. However, it was revealed that there is no such program and the committee advised to prepare a formal program quickly and report within a month considering the situation in other countries of the world.
While 453 rain gauges were installed, 73 of them have remained inactive. Furthermore, despite 122 automatic rain gauges being installed in 2018, special attention was paid to the fact that 70 remain inoperative to date. The DOM was instructed to present a program within a month to install these rain gauges properly and get the data immediately.