School headmasters siphoning funds: CAG
In a shocking report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) unearthed misappropriation of school funds yearmarked under the Right to Education (RTE) Act by headmasters of different schools in the country. Such cases of misappropriation are rampant particularly in three states, namely Odisha, Bihar and Assam.
The report was tabled in the both the houses of Parliament last week. The audit for 2016 was conducted through test-check of records of the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and implementing agencies in 28 states (excluding Jammu and Kashmir) and seven union territories for the period from April 2010 to March 2016.
In Odisha, auditors found that in five sampled districts, Rs 1.04 crore was withdrawn and retained by 58 headmasters without executing 80 infrastructure works alloted to them.
Fourteen of those of those headmasters had retired and some were absconding while 38 were continuing in service. Although the District Project Coordinators had been instructed in May 2016 to recover the amount and initiate disciplinary action against the defaulting headmasters, no action was taken against them except in case of one headmaster. An independent inquiry suggests that all those headmasters are associated with the state's ruling party and the district authorities are "afraid" to take action against those people.
In order to provide safe drinking water in urban Government schools, 13 works were taken up by the Sonepur District Project Officer and Rs 1 lakh per work was sanctioned under the Sarba Sikhsha Avijan. An advance of Rs 8 lakh was released in August 2011 by the District Project Coordinator to then Senior Technical Coordinator. Later, the Senior Technical coordinator produced vouchers amounting to Rs 11. 03 lakh for 14 schools. It was, however, found that the vouchers submitted by the coordinator towards material and digging costs were fake. In case of 25 works valued in Mayurbhanj district at Rs 1.36 crore., the entire fund for 2009-10 to 2012 -13 was withdrawn by the headmaster without completing the work. In this case too, no action was taken against him.
In case of Bihar, during the test check of records of DPO and schools, it was noticed that headmasters of 234 schools in six districts had withdrwan Rs 12.06 crore funds meant for civil works from the account of Vidyalay Shiksha Samiti till 2014-15. But the concerned civil works were still incomplete and the targeted basic facilities were not achieved within a period of three years from commencement of the RTE Act.
In Assam, Rs 339 crore was released to different school in selected districts of Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur and Darrang during 2010-11 to 2014-15 for civil construction works such as additional class rooms, boy's toilets and headmaster's room. But the work is still incomplete.