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Huge funds misappropriated under mid-day meal scheme in Orissa

About 33,506 quintals of rice worth Rs 3.68 crore was misappropriated under the mid-day meal scheme in Orissa between 2004 and 2008.

About 33,506 quintals of rice worth Rs 3.68 crore was misappropriated under the mid-day meal scheme in Orissa between 2004 and 2008,the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has found.

The CAG,which conducted a test audit of the scheme in Khurda,Mayurbhanj,Balasore and Sambalpur districts in that period,found that storage and transport agents appointed by the collectors delivered less rice than they had taken from the Food Corporation of India depots.

When rice was being taken,it was the total quantity that was weighed irrespective of the number of bags,and recorded in the release order of rice. But while being delivered at schools,each bag was understood to contain 50 kgs of rice. The storage and transport agents who took 34.84 lakh quintals in 70.32 lakh bags between 2004 and 2008,actually delivered 34.53 lakh quintals in 69.69 lakh bags. However,the agents obtained acknowledgement from schools that they had delivered 34.84 lakh quintals. The mid-day meal in-charge of two schools admitted that they had received less quantity of foodgrains when compared to standardized weight of the bags.

The review found that the district social welfare officer of Bargarh district issued way bills – in triplicate – against the rice taken by transport agents from FCI depots for delivery at different blocks. However,the agent delivered less rice at the blocks than the actual quantity lifted,by following a method of recording less quantity of rice in the copies of way bill available in the block office and the actual quantity recorded in the same copy of way bills available in the DSWO’s office.

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The scheme initiated to increase enrollment in schools and to prevent incidents of drop outs,besides improving the nutritional and health status of students,has also failed to meet its avowed objectives,the CAG audit found.

In the districts of Cuttack,Bargarh,Khurda and Sonepur the enrollment rates gradually decreased between March 2005 and March 2008. Moreover there have been several cases of children falling sick after consuming the meals. About 85 children became sick after consuming mid-day meals at schools between January 2005 and February 2006.

In Laxmannath Primary School of Jaleswar in Balasore district,39 students had to be hospitalized after the cook added ammonium sulphate instead of salt to dal. In Batapandugandi primary school of Jashipur block in Mayurbhanj district,14 students complained of abdominal discomfort and were hospitalized after consuming rotten eggs. Eight per cent of the students interviewed by the CAG audit team said they had symptoms of nausea and vomiting after consuming mid-day meals.

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Ninety-two per cent of the schools did not have kitchen sheds.

The CAG also also found that out of the Central assistance of Rs 660.01 crore during 2003-08,the State spent only Rs 448.97 crore. The state has not contributed anything to the scheme in real monetary terms.

First published on: 17-02-2009 at 02:29:39 pm
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