The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has censured the School Education Department for its failure to establish the model schools at block level saying that it deprived the school children from receiving quality education.
The CAG report on Social Economic and Revenue sectors recently submitted in the Parliament said that the failure of the government to set up model schools led to non-utilisation of funds to the tune of Rs 44.13 crores.
"The J&K government contribution of Rs 5.74 crore and interest accrued included in the available fund of Rs 44.13 crore was also blocked for 10 years," the report said.
The CAG report said the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India launched a scheme in November 2008 with an objective to have at least one good quality secondary model school in every Educationally Backward Block (EBB).
"The scheme was to be implemented from 2009-10 onward. As J&K was a special category state, the pattern through grant-in-aid for implementation of the scheme was 90:10 for GoI and J&K government," it said.
The report said that the J&K government in November 2009 submitted a proposal to the Grant-in-Aid Committee (GIAC) of DSEL in MHRD to set up 17 to 24 new model schools and conversion of seven existing schools in model schools for EBBs.
"During its third meeting in November 2009, the GIAC observed that the projected unit cost of Rs 6.18 crore was higher than the scheme norm of Rs 3.02 crore per model school and the J&K government was required to either revise the estimate or to meet the extra financial burden," it said.
However, the representatives from J&K had informed the GIAC that the estimates would be revised to bring them within the scheme norms following which the GIAC in November 2009 recommended establishment of 19 new model schools in J&K.
"Revision of cost was stated to be submitted to Project Approval Board (PAB) in 2010-11 and amendments were also made to existing provisions by DSEL in April 2014, giving an opportunity to J&K government to revise the cost based on State Schedule of Rates (SSoR) in respect of the sanctioned 19 model schools for the EBBs as a one-time exception," the report said.
The CAG report said that the J&K government claimed that a proposal based on the SSoR was submitted to DSEL in August 2014.
"But no relevant details of the revised proposals were provided on the grounds that Directorate of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) remained submerged in devastating floods in Kashmir in September of 2014 for over 25 days due to which most of the records in hard copy were destroyed," the CAG report said.
It said that the grant-in-aid of Rs 25.82 crore (90 percent) and Rs 2.87 crore (J&K's share) of the first installment was released in 2010 to the erstwhile State Project Director (SPD) Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
It said that the amount of Rs 29.23 crore was transferred in December 2010 and kept at the disposal of State Project Director (SPD), Samagra Shiksha followed by further release of an additional J&K share of Rs 2.87 crore in January 2011.
"Scrutiny of records of SPD Samagra Shiksha in January 2019 revealed that the grants-in-aid of Rs 25.82 crore and J&K share of Rs 5.74 crore were parked in the saving bank account of J&K Noor Society," the report said. "Even after the lapse of 10 years, the government has not taken adequate initiative for implementation the scheme in the J&K."
The CAG report said that the failure of the department to take timely action, despite relaxation of norms by MHRD for utilisation of funds received from the GoI to establish model schools not only resulted in non-utilisation of Rs 44.13 crore for 10 years but also deprived the intended beneficiaries from quality education.
"The J&K share of Rs 5.74 crore plus interest included in the Rs 44.13 crore was blocked as well," the report said.
It said that the Chief Accounts Officer of J&K Samagra Shiksha stated that the amount initially approved for establishment of model schools was inadequate to take the construction work while the case regarding revision of cost submitted to Project Approval Board (PAB) was undecided.
"The reply is not tenable as the department has not availed the benefit to either revise the unit cost estimate of each school or to meet the financial burden despite relaxation of norms by DSEL of MHRD," the report said.
It said that after delinking of the scheme from the GoI support in 2015, the J&K School Education Department was to arrange the additional funds from its own resources but no steps were taken so far and Rs 44.13 crore continued to be held in the bank account.
"The matter was referred to the department and government in May 2020 but their replies were awaited," the CAG report said.
The CAG has further asked the J&K government to ensure that unspent amount along with interest accrued thereon be refunded in accordance with the conditions laid down in the sanction order of the GoI and responsibility fixed for non-establishment of model schools.