Crores meant for school buildings swindled
In 3 Years,560 Cr ‘Utilized’ Under SSA; 80% Works Non-Existent
Srinagar, Sep 25: Sarva Shiksha Abihiyan (SSA), a centrally sponsored flagship programme meant for universalization of elementary education, is one area in Jammu and Kashmir where corruption seems to have been ‘universalized’ with impunity. If official documents were any indicator, there is no count as to how many crores of rupees, or even more, stand swindled in the past three years, leave alone figures of the past. Here is how:
Official documents with Greater Kashmir reveal that while at least Rs 560 crores have been allotted to various districts in Kashmir division, including Leh and Kargil, for construction of school buildings under SSA in the past three years (2009-11), at least 80 percent or work is either “under construction” or doesn’t exist on ground at all. This is nothwistanding an “expenditure” of Rs 460 crores that the School Education Department shows to have made in the past two financial years.
In a shocking revelation, official documents show that funds allotted to eight constituencies of Srinagar under the SSA is Rs 17.47 crores for the two financial years (2009-10 and 2010-11). The documents reveal that out of this money, Rs 17.21 crores stand “utilized”. But the physical assessment report of all the constituencies reveals that not a single building, for which the money was allotted, has been constructed or is existent on ground. The assessment shows that out of 52 primary school buildings, which the School Education Department, was supposed to construct, not a single structure has been erected.
Amirakadal Constituency, for instance, has received a total of Rs 2.3 crores under the SAA for the past two years out of which Rs 2.2 crores have been “utilized” during this period. But there is no trace of buildings, as per the physical verification report, which only mentions zero (0) against the physical status of school buildings to be constructed. The situation is similar in rest of the seven constituencies.
In Ganderbal district, funds received in last two years is Rs 21.38 crores while the funds “utilized” during this period is Rs 16.38 crores. But, according to the physical verification report, 58 primary schools and 147 ACRs were supposed to be constructed under the SSA—something which has not been done. As per documents, only 3 primary school buildings have been completed while 54 are under construction and only nine ACRs have been completed so far.
The situation is more or less similar with district Budgam. The funds received by this district under SSA in last two years is Rs 69.29 crores and funds “utilized” during this period is Rs 62.74 crores.
However, out of 88 primary school buildings only 8 have been completed while 80 are still under construction. And out of 369ACRs, only 74 have been completed while 295 are under construction. Besides two KGVBs allotted are under construction while 5 CRCs are also under construction.
In Pulwama, the situation is dismal. Funds received in last two years stands at Rs 30.27 crores while their Rs 28.67 crores have been “utilized.” But out of 69 primary school buildings, only 25 have been completed while 44 are still under construction. And out of 129 ACRs to be constructed, only 93 completed have been completed while 36 are under construction. Documents show that five CRCs are under construction in the district when the allotment is none.
Data from this district shows that funds received in the past two years is Rs 23.93 crores out of which Rs 22.54 crores have been ‘utilized’. But out of 66 primary school buildings, none has been completed while 18 are under construction. Out of 214 ACRs to be constructed, only 23 have been completed while 123 are under-construction. Two KGVBs allotted are also under constructed besides five allotted CRCs.
In Kulgam district, funds received in last two years is Rs 47.44 crores out of which Rs 44.33 crores have been “utilized.” But out of 99 primary schools to be taken up under SSA, none has been completed. Only 41 are under construction. And out of 441 ACRs only 21 have been completed while rest are under construction.
Anantnag district has received Rs 77.36 crores in the past two years under SSA and has “utilized” Rs 56.60 crores. But out of 135 primary schools, only 21 stand completed while 114 are under construction. Also 500 out of 635 buildings are under construction.
In Baramulla district, funds received in last two years is Rs 96.67 crores out of which Rs 88.86 crores have been “utilized.” But out of 152 primary school buildings, none has been completed and all the school buildings are under construction. And all the 498 ACRs allotted are under construction. Besides, 5 CRCs are also under construction.
Funds received in last two years in this district is Rs 31.94 crores while an amount of Rs 28.23 crores have been “utilized.” But out of 53 primary school buildings, none has been completed. All are under construction. Out of 339 ACRs only 49 have been compelted while 355 are under construction. The five CRCs allotted are also under construction like one BRC.
The funds received in last two years is Rs 101.88 crores out of which Rs 95.82 crores have been “utilized.” But out of 205 buildings, only 53 have been completed and 152 are under construction. And out of 657 ARCs, only 392 are completed while 265 are under construction.
In Kagril district, funds received in last two years under SSA is Rs 31.28 crores out of which Rs 16.45 crores have been utilized. But out of 18 primary school buildings only three have been completed while 5 ARCs are under construction.
The funds received in last two years is Rs 17.43 while funds utilized in last two years is Rs 15.64 cr. But only 30 percent of work has been done so far.
The utilization of money, as claimed by officials, has raised a huge question mark especially when buildings on ground in so many districts are non-existent or under construction.
“When the utilization has already been made, it means the money stands given to schools and contractors. But where has it gone when 80 percent of buildings are still under construction, mostly at the plinth levels? Where has this money been utilized?” asked an official, privy to the SSA data.
According to sources, it is an important concern as to why school buildings are still under construction. “In Uri many buildings are non-existent while are still at the plinth level. So it is naturally a concern as to where does this money go?” they said.
The annual budgetary allocation under SSA hovers around Rs 500 crores on an average. By virtue of this, the school buildings should have been completed in time and well within the available financial assistance to avoid cost escalations. “But in absence of any monitoring mechanism and huge financial irregularities, the scheme has failed to yield the desired results. In many cases, school children have to study in open sky in absence of school buildings. This leads to the closure of their schools, of and on, especially during rains and heat,” said another official, privy to this data.
The official said the Government of India must order a time-bound inquiry and audit of the SSA funds and also go for physical verification of school buildings—both completed and under-construction.
“The department is showing buildings under construction in many districts. But it needs to be ascertained at what level these buildings are? Because it has been mostly seen that wherever buildings are to be constructed, the structures are either at the plinth level or at the roof level,” the official said.
THE URI SSA SCAM
Already Rs 3 crore, meant for construction of school buildings in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, stand swindled in broad daylight. The financial irregularities, which include withdrawal of full payments against non-existent and incomplete school buildings in Uri, surface amidst the Minister for Education Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed’s oft-repeated claim that “it is ensuring accountability in construction of school buildings”— an assertion deflated in official documents with Greater Kashmir.
In ‘Minutes of Meeting’ chaired by the Minister for Public Health and Engineering Taj Mohi-ud-Din in June this year, the embezzlement to the tune of Rs 3 crore has been clearly pointed out. The money was drawn against buildings which were yet to be constructed or were still at the plinth level. In gross violation of rules, sources said, the money for the school buildings had been directly transferred to the personal accounts of heads of the affected institutions or Zonal Education Officers.
Minister for Public Health and Engineering Taj Mohi-ud-Din, who is a legislator from Uri constituency, has already ordered inquiry into the scandal. Pertinently, the school buildings were supposed to be completed by the end of 2007.
PAC probing irregularities
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Legislative Assembly has last month sought up-to-date information about the newly opened and upgraded schools.
It also called for official record to ascertain total number of model schools along with cumulative expenditure incurred thereon.
The Committee, which met here under the Chairmanship of National Conference legislators Mir Saifullah expressed dissatisfaction over the reply submitted by the education department.
The Chairman directed the concerned authorities to furnish information about the learning centres and number of teachers trained, status of KGBVs etc.
While PAC has sought “up to date” information, the Department is yet to furnish it, sources said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 26 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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