Corruption mars flagship SSA
* Sub-Standard Material Used In KGBV Buildings * Codal Procedure Violated *Demands For Independent Inquiries Ignored
Srinagar, Oct 19: If there is anything that goes to the credit of the Jammu and Kashmir government with regard to implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), it is the large-scale bungling, kickbacks and mismanagement, as is evident from official documents.
While the state is out to paint a rosy picture of the SSA implementation through ‘paid advertisements,’ official documents—copies of which are with Greater Kashmir—reveal how corruption has marred the Government of India’s much-hyped flagship programme aimed at universalization of elementary education (UEE).
Apart from other sectors, officials associated with SSA implementation, have played havoc with the construction of school buildings that have come up under the programme.
Not only sub-standard material has been used in construction of the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalas (KGBVs), but a major deviation in the plan designs and violation of codal procedure has been observed in these Vidyalas.
This, according to the documents, is risking the lives of over 3000 young girls studying the KGBVs—the residential schools providing education from Class 6 to Class 8, especially for girls belonging to marginalised communities under the SSA.
Documents reveal that the material amounting to lakhs of rupees has been purchased from the open market without observing codal provisions. “In most cases the purchases have been made at connivance from the suppliers who appear to be in a malafide league with the purchases. Financial prudence demands that the purchases should have been made after observing codal formalities like invitation of tenders, quotations which does not seem to have been done and the purchases have been made at the whims of the Junior Engineers,” the Accounts Officer, SSA mentions in one of his missives to the former State Project Director, SSA, Khursheed Ahmad Reshi. “Material at site account has not been enclosed with the bill and it is inferred that the same has not been prepared at all. Same is the case with stock register. Though the guidelines have been issued in December 2009 and the works have been executed earlier but the guidelines which are synonyms with the public works code should have been adhered to. Material such as wood and iron should have been purchased from the IKSFC and SAIL but the same has been managed privately.”
The Officer has asked the SPD to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of the works executed. “It would also be advisable if the works executed in the entire Kashmir division are got evaluated by a third party to give its assessment of the works executed besides the material required/consumed vis-à-vis the maintenance of the quality work done. The payment, if it is to be released, can only be made after the evaluation report of the third party,” he writes.
An official note pertaining to the on-the-spot visit by the SSA authorities to the KGVB in Kashmir Valley reveals that the material used for construction of the KGBV buildings appears to be substandard and not as per the guidelines. “Many lapses in the construction of the KGBV buildings were noticed. The type-design and estimates thereof have been diluted/ modified by the Junior Engineers/Executive Engineer concerned without any approval of the competent authority,” writes the former SPD Khursheed Ahmad Reshi in his letter to the former Secretary to Education, GA Peer.
The claim is endorsed by the SSA’s Accounts Officer as well. “The Executive Engineer (South) and (North) Kashmir have furnished the work done statement placed across the file of various KGBV buildings of Kashmir division for release of payments thereof. While verifying the claims of these works done statements, it has been observed that the estimates enclosed with the bill have been prepared by the JE’s and signed by the Executive Engineers which is against the codal procedure,” the officer writes. “The estimates should have been got prepared by the Drawing Branch (Draftsman) and then approved by the Executive Engineer and the State Project Director since the latter is the drawing and disbursing officer of the SSA. The DDO powers rested with the Executive Engineers is a misnomer and no such powers have ever been delegated to them.”
Interestingly Reshi has called for evaluation of the entire works done by an independent agency to verify ‘whether the construction work of the KGBV buildings has been conducted as per the established standards and guidelines.” But the demand is yet to see the light of the day.
Though the SSA authorities have many a time asked the Executive and Junior Engineers to explain their positions with regard to the issue, the missive have evoked little response.
On 30 April 2010, the commissioner/secretary, Education Department, GA Peer, shot a letter to the SSA’s State Project Director after the former received a complaint against the executive engineer, SSA. “This department is in receipt of a complaint submitted by Nazir Ahmad Wani, JE, SSA, District Anantnag (Islamabad). The allegations leveled against the Executive Engineer are of grave nature. You are advised to investigate the matter and issue show-cause notice to Riyaz, Executive Engineer, SSA and furnish report alongwith your comments within a week,” Peer writes vide letter No Edu/PS/Secy/11/10.
On May 21, the Reshi issued a ‘show-cause notice’ to the Executive Engineer asking explain his position. “Whereas Nazir Ahmad Wani has leveled the allegation that a cut of 13.5 percent used to be made by Executive Engineer, Draftsman and Data Entry Operator for release of the funds for construction of KGBV buildings and Rs 6 lakhs were retained by the Executive Engineer ever after certification,” Reshi writes vide letter No Edu/SDP/SSA/467/25685-95/10. “You are hereby asked to explain your position in this behalf failing which action under rules shall be initiated against you.” So far the explanation hasn’t evoked any response.
Interestingly, on the same day (May 21, 2010), Reshi has also ordered a probe against the Junior Engineer, Nazir Ahmad Wani, who complained against the Executive Enginer. “A committee is constituted to probe into the conduct of Mr Nazir Ahamd Wani associated with the construction of the KGBV building in Zone of Qazigund, Sirigufwara and Achabal, presently attached with SPO in view of the discrepancies observed in construction of these KGBV buildings during the visit of the SPD,” reads the order no. 136 Ujala of 2010.
VOCAL TEACHER PUNISHED
Earlier this year, a Zonal Education Officer made a formal representation to the State Project Director SSA, accusing the Chief Education Officer, Islamabad, Manzoor A Paul, of forcing her to takeover the KGBV building at Nagras Qazigund. “I was always under pressure from the concerned office in connection with taking over of the KGBV building at Nagras Qazigund. I refused to take over the building in question on the grounds that it was totally incomplete and was not safe for the girl students anyway. Tenders were invited under rules but, during the opening of tenders, directions from CEO Anantnag (Islamabad), were received for not opening them,” writes then ZEO Qazigund, Hanifa Akhtar, who had to bear the brunt of the CEO for objecting to the truth. “I want to know on what basis did the CEO ordered my transfer. I could not submit my representation so far as my husband was physically unfit and I was not able to leave home. Kindly look into the matter.”
On 28 May 2010, the SSA authorities took up the matter with the Secretary, Education Department, seeking necessary action, which is yet to come. The SPD also shot an explanation to the CEO Islamabad, who had taken over the building after being handed over by the Executive Engineer, Kashmir Division.
The hand-over/take-over was done by the CEO and Executive Engineer when it was supposed to be done by the ZEO and Junior Engineer, given the SSA guidelines. Here too, the SPD shot an explanation to the Executive Engineer, Riyaz Ahamd Wani. “You have handed over the KGBV building Nargees to Chief Education Officer (Anantnag) Islamabad on 25-09-2009 without my permission/authorization from the undersigned and you have not informed me about the same till date. The said building should have been handed-over to the ZEO concerned by the JE concerned, who constructed the same. The ZEO refused to take over the building in view of the cracks developed from plinth itself, inadequacies and use of low quality/low dimension timber and many in-completions thereof. You are directed to explain as to why you have bypassed the SPD and handed over the building to CEO,” reads the letter No Edu/SPD/SSA/25138-41/10 dated April 26 2010.
The District Education Planning Officer, Islamabad, pointed-out serious lapses in construction of the building. He said the plinth of the building is showing up cracks at three places, many of the inner walls also show cracks, the floor also shows cracks, the plywood is not 6 mm thick, the timber used doesn’t look Kail, the bathrooms are non-functional, there is no electric power supply, water tanks have not been put in place and students are put to hardships.
The District Education Planning Officer, Islamabad also gave a report pertaining to KGBV building at Hanji Danter Islamabad on 16-04-2010. “The first deviation that meets the eye of even a non-technical person is the fragile and cracked mortar of the staircase which seems due to disproportionate mixing of the mortar. The doors and windows don’t fit in the respective frames and the timber used doesn’t look like Kail. One door even opens with its lock on. The bolts and hinges are not in place everywhere and this has resulted in the damage of glass panes. The electricity fitting and fixtures also look infra-standard,” he writes vide letter No: CEO/A/SSA/10/71-72.
JAKFED PAYMENTS ISSUE
The State Project Office this year received a letter from JAKFED, Jammu regarding the pending payment of about Rs 6 lakh to which the procurement was made by the Executive Engineer on his own.
MINISTER’S CONSTITUENCY NO EXCEPTION
The Education Minister, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed’s constituency has been no exception to the construction of sub-standard KGVB buildings. The former SPD SSA, according to official documents, got the slab of the first floor of a KGVB dismantled in Bandipora, Zone Vailu in south Kashmir. The slap had not been constructed up to the mark. The school is situated in the Minister’s constituency.
The Education Minister’s office is allegedly shielding the accused officials involved in “large scale building” in the SSA. Though the SSA authorities have sought an independent probe into the KGBV scandal time and again, the demand has been allegedly ignored by the Minister for unknown reasons. This time, the sources said, the engineers are lobbying hard to get the payments released against the sub-standard buildings. “The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah must order a time-bound inquiry in the SSA implementation and punished the accused engineers and officers who have played havoc with the scheme. At the same time children studying under KGVB building must be shifted to some safer places till a team of eminent engineers visits the buildings and examines their safety. If the buildings have been constructed with sub-standard material, it means the lives of young girls are at risk. That should be a matter of concern for any concerned government,” said an official in the Education Department, insisting not to be named.
Pertinently, many of the KGVB buildings had been constructed before there the guidelines for the same came into force.
“The buildings must be constructed as per the guidelines and proper consideration should be given to the codal procedure,” he said.
The SSA has a comprehensive document which says how the buildings have to be constructed.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 19 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 19 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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