At least 644 kitchen-cum-stores for mid-day meals are yet to be constructed in Manipur due to the diversion of funds amounting to Rs 14.02 crore under the National Programme of Mid-Day Meal.
According to a report by the auditor general, on March 2011, the Government of India had approved Rs 40.82 crore for the construction of 1,879 units of Kitchen-cum-Store under the scheme. However, the government released only Rs 35.79 crore.
“The Grants-in-aid should be utilised for the construction of Kitchen-cum-Store under the Mid-Day Meals scheme in accordance with the provisions of the rules and diverted for any other purpose,” the report said.
The report said that as per an examination conducted by the AG on December 2016, the additional director of education schools/valley in 2014 showed that due to amalgamation and abolition of several schools, the requirement of kitchen-cum-stores was reduced to 1,792 units. As a result, the Manipur government refunded Rs 6.52 crore, which it had considered to be an excess amount, leaving a balance of Rs 29.27 crore.
Subsequently, the state education department deposited an amount of Rs 1.64 crore as value added tax (VAT) and the balance of Rs 27.63 crore was transferred on December 2015 to the accounts of the Nodal Officer, Mid-Day Meal.
Out of this amount, a sum of Rs 14.02 crore was diverted between February and July in 2016 for payment of cooking cost and cooking honorarium in three instalments. As per the report, the first diversion of Rs 4.05 crore took place on February 2, followed by Rs 3.08 crore on April 24 and another Rs 6.89 crore on July 2.
The total amount was used on the condition that the same would be reimbursed on the release of subsequent funds from the Centre.
The report said the diversion of Rs 14.02 crore and its subsequent non-recoupment have stalled the construction of at least 644 kitchen-cum-stores across the state.
However, the department said that the Centre had released Rs 30.97 crore to the state as the recurring component for cooking cost till the end of 2016-17 and that the diverted amount of Rs 14.02 crore will be reimbursed as and when the fund is released by the state government.