Abhishek Kadyan, Media Adviser to OIPA in India & TV Journalist | 14.12.2008 01:04 | Education
Indiscriminate spending in the coffer-rich Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project seems to remain unabated in Haryana.
Even the refusal of education minister Mange Ram Gupta of attaching himself with this mega education project, registering his resentment over the irregularities, has failed to wake up the officials concerned as well as his own government.
There was a sum of Rs 450 crore at the disposal of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the state during this fiscal.
During the past few years, officials of the project remained in news for all wrong reasons. This time, they have ordered to buy colour pencils of Camlin worth over Rs 5.7 crore at a price of Rs 35 for each box.
The project officials, however, did not bother to mention any specification about the size of the colour pencil box in the letter dispatched to all district coordinators in the state on December 2 asking “to incur expenditure of Rs 35 per pencil box (Camlin brand)”.
Moreover, they did not take pains to make purchases through rate contract despite specific directions of Haryana Chief Minister, which were circulated by the Haryana Prathmik Shiksha Pariyojana Parishad headquarters in all districts of the state after a large number of irregularities were reported in the purchases made during 2006-07. As many as 14,50,340 pencil boxes are to be procured.
State project director P.K. Das said he had received a request from the department of elementary education to supply these colour pencils in the schools to enable the students to complete exercises in the workbooks. The procurement procedure through rate contract takes at least four months and by March the current school session would be over, he said. That was the reason that after a market survey it was decided to purchase colour pencils of Camlin at maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs 35 at local levels, he added.
However, education commissioner Rajan Gupta had some other reasons for advocating the purchases directly.
The splurging of a few crores of public money in the name of “quality control” was not a big issue, said Gupta. “In fact, we have to face complaints from root level that material being supplied to them from headquarters was of inferior quality,” he added. “Now, there would be no scope of complaint in the quality when the purchases are made at local levels,” said Gupta.
Gupta, however, suggested TNS to contact the state project director on the issue when he was asked that where was the scope of choice at the root level when a particular brand had already been prescribed to be purchased.
Interestingly, there was no such colour pencil box manufactured by Camlin with an MRP of Rs 35 available in the market.
A survey of the market by TNS revealed that there were three boxes with a maximum retail of Rs 17, Rs 30 and Rs 60 and one can negotiate for discount up to 25 per cent on purchase order for a few hundred boxes.
However, this was not only a single instance of irregularities in the project this year.
A few months ago, the department released an instalment of Rs 43 lakh to an NGO in March to conduct “shiksha adhikar yatra” in the state ignoring the adverse reports filed against the NGO’s working by district project coordinators (DPCs).
Source - http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20081214/haryana.htm#1