MDM scam: NPRAAF reacts to DoSE clarification

DIMAPUR, FEB 19 (NPN) | Publish Date: 2/19/2020 12:44:31 PM IST

Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) reacted to the clarification by department of School Education (DoSE) principal secretary Shanavas C over alleged anomalies in Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme implementation in the backdrop of the latter issuing a clarification. 

NPRAAF said it was amused by the statement defending carriage contractor RN Sharma’s misdeeds. While appreciating Shanavas for clarifying that annual sanction of food grains allocated by Centre was 4076.590 metric tonne (MT), which was more than the figure of 4,000 MT given by it, and therefore more in excess of state’s actual requirement, NPRAAF demanded to know as to why the department failed to regularly implement the scheme.

Further, if the unspent balance of food grains were subsequently adjusted during the next allocation and was a normal practice as claimed by Shanavas, NPRAAF wanted to know why year after year adjustment over adjustment was made hoodwinking the Centre. It also asked whether the school education department showed inflated number of students to Delhi to receive even more food grains to make further adjustment next year. 

Alleging that poor school children did not receive midday meals regularly every school day as per Government of India guidelines, the forum asked the principal secretary not to fool the public, stressing that Nagas were not fools to buy such unjustifiable argument, cautioning “lies will only breed more lies”. 

Expressing shock that when the actual requirement for school children as per entitlement was 100 gm per child per day in primary and 150 gm per child per day in upper primary, the forum said it was absolutely scandalous to demand and receive 10 lakh kg or 80,000 bags (each weighing 50 kg) of food grains from the Centre to feed the poor children in schools regularly. 

Referring to Shanavas’s claim that the total number of beneficiaries was 1,57,510 (1,19,144 in primary and 38, 366 in upper primary), NPRAAF pointed out that it had a received a copy of the letter written to State education secretaries/principal secretaries dealing with MDM scheme on April 29, 2016 by department of school education & literacy (MDM division) under Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) by one Gaya Prasad from RN Sharma himself. 

It claimed that on the overleaf page, the letter for allocation of food grains State-wise was imprinted, wherein it was mentioned that in 2015-16 there were 1,97,296 students and rice allocation was thus – 830.72 MT and 1006.44 MT for 1,59,753 students in primary stage; 354.59 MT and 292.68 MT for 37,523 students in upper primary; and 11.61 MT and 11.03 MT for 980 children under National Child Labour Project (NCLP) scheme. 

Pointing out that the total allocation was 2,507.07 MT, whereas the respective allocation was just made for the first and second quarters alone, NPRAAF said the State thus received more or less the same amount of food grains in the next two quarters, which totalled up to over 5000 MT. And this meant the department received about 1,25,000 kg of rice or 1 lakh bag of rice (in 50-kg bag) or more in the past every year, it explained.

The forum said it was unfortunate that in spite of the unaccounted food grains received by the State from the Centre, MDM could not be efficiently implemented. And as the allocation received by NCLP or NGOs was meagre to this day, blaming NCLP or the NGOs in the whole fiasco was totally unjustified, it added.

Further, clarifying that the contractor had informed it that the exact number of enrolled students was 1,06,298, as against the figure shown in the official documents submitted to Delhi, NPRAAF stressed it was necessary to enlighten the public with facts and figures as it was not doing business out of it. But it said the figure was subjected to change.

The forum explained to Shanavas that it was only going by the Mid-Day Meal Rules, 2015 published vide notification no. G.S.R 743(E), dated 30th December, 2015 wherein MHRD (department of school education and literacy) ruled that every child within the age group of 6 to 14 years studying in Classes 1 to VIII who enrolled and attended the school would be provided meal having nutritional standards free of charge every day except on holidays. 

The forum expressed unhappiness that when food grains were being taken away even from the poor children and civil society groups, student bodies and public were crying foul for long, Shanavas was trying to shield the corrupt contractor and asking it to produce evidence to show that the contractor had paid money to various organisations, politicians and officers, which the contractor had himself admitted and therefore was a prima facie evidence in itself. And all this instead of trying to find out the truth behind the corrupt activities and initiate legal action against the culprit, it added.

The forum said it had called a meeting of its executives in the wake of the principal secretary asking evidence of nexus between government officials and politicians in the scam, which was not a new issue in public domain. 

NPRAAF expressed its readiness to make even more sensitive disclosures as confessed by the contractor in the court of law and as desired by Shanavas how much money per quintal was being paid to various organisations in more detail when the matter comes before the court of law as promised at the earliest.

Claiming that the MDM scam was an open secret, the forum said it was intriguing if the “young IAS officer” was pressurised by some higher-ups to issue such unqualified press statement. 

Observing that Nagas were plagued by multiple corruption issues and could not grow, NPRAAF said Shanavas taking upon himself the scam on behalf of the contractor was absolutely unbecoming of a civil servant on whom the public had high hope. When corruption had become like a cancer today and was destroying the fabric of the society, the only hope was on young bureaucrats like him, but even he too was only interested in scoring a point and not in finding remedy, it added.

It explained that the objective of putting the scam in public domain was to make the public aware of their rights. 

According to the statement, the most important Issue was why the carriage contractor, whose responsibility was only to lift food-grains from FCI depot and transport these to various destinations and receive transport bill for carriage contract, was doing business with the food grains meant for the poor children. 

Stating that every Naga knew the episode that had remained unresolved for a long time, NPRAAF termed it as unfortunate that Shanavas had come out in defence of the contractor. It urged him to stay wise and not get polluted with corruption issues at an early stage of his career as the nation had great hope on a young leader like him.

-Tags:#MDM scam

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