NPRAAF alleges irregularities in MDM implementation

NPRAAF alleges irregularities in MDM implementation
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Dimapur, February 16: The Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) has alleged irregularities in the implementation of Mid-Day Meal scheme in Nagaland and appealed to the State Government to rectify the irregularities or the forum will take legal action.
In a press release, NPRAAF stated that as per the Mid-Day Meal Rules, 2015 every child within the age group of 6-14 years studying in class 1 to 7 who enroll and attend school shall be provided meal having nutritional standards free of charge every day except on school holidays.
NPRAAF revealed that the Government of Nagaland receives about 4000 metric ton annually, which is equivalent to 80,000 bags in 50 kgs bag in 4 installments or quarter. Nagaland receives every quarter about 914.35 metric ton, equivalent to 20,000 bags in 50 kg bag.
Citing available source, NPRAAF said the quantity is lifted from FCI store house by three carriage contractors – 112 quintal is lifted by an NGO in from Eastern Nagaland (EN), 300 quintal lifted by National Child Labour Project Scheme (NCLPS) and the remaining food grain lifted by a non-local carriage contractor.
Nagaland has already received sanction for 3rd quarter (Oct 2019 to Dec 2019) and 4th quarter (Jan 2020 to March 2020) respectively for the financial year 2019-20, as per Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education & Literacy (Mid day meal division), Shastri Bhavan letter dated 20th September 2019.
NPRAAF claimed that even though huge quantity of food grain is received the concern department do not regularly implement the mid day meal scheme in accordance to Government of India guidelines.
Stating that the carriage contractors receives Rs 125 per quintal (100 kg) as fixed rate from GoI for transportation of the food grains to various destination as specified by Government of Nagaland, NPRAAF said the role of the carriage contractors should be limited to transportation of food grains. “However, in Nagaland the carriage contractors become the owner of the food grains which are allocated to them, over and above the carriage contractors also get transportation bill, which is totally illegal,” it said.
NPRAAF stated that the students are entitled to mid-day meal as per National Food Security Act, 2013 on a daily basis except on holidays, and if the mid-day meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains, cooking cost, fuel or absence of cook-cum-helper or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance as defined in clause (c) of rule 2 to every child referred to in rule 3 by 15th of the succeeding month.
Rule 9 of GoI draft notification on mid day meal scheme states the State Government shall take action to fix responsibility on the person or agency in accordance with the procedure laid down, if mid day meal is not provided in school on school days continuously for 3 days or at least 5 days in a month. “However, there is blatant violation of the rule, yet, no action has been taken against any concern for best reason known to the Government,” the forum alleged.
Informing that NPRAAF officials met the non-local contractor and inquired the reason why food grains could not reach the targeted beneficiaries, the release claimed the contractor replied that “it was not easy to meet the goal in view of tax from various organization which is in addition to the percentage given to the politicians and officers from the profit calculated through sale of the food grains in the open market after re-polishing and repacking.”
“The carriage contractor becomes the highest beneficiary to this illegal business,” it alleged.
Reiterating that the job of the carriage contractor is merely to transport the food-grains to various destination and thereafter apply for the transportation bill as per GoI prescribed rate, NPRAAF claimed that the contractor pays Rs 2 for wheat and Rs 3 for rice per kg to the FCI through challan on behalf of the State Government and lift the food grain from the FCI storehouse. “Thereafter, few quantity of food grains are dispatched to various destination to whitewash the implementation of the scheme in some schools,” it alleged.
Stating that such practice is illegal and is a punishable offence under the law of the land, NPRAAF said it is strongly against such illegal act and any Government servant working in complicity with the contractor(s) is liable under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, which is punishable with fine and prison term. It appealed to the State Government to look into the matter or NPRAAF will take legal action if the Government remains oblivious to the call. (Page News Service)