A few days after reports of embezzlement of rice under the midday meal scheme emerged from various schools in Koraput and Bolangir districts, fresh reports of similar frauds have come to notice in schools in Sundargarh and Sambalpur districts.
The supply agents and officials who are responsible for supplying rice to the schools have been accused of embezzling rice worth lakhs of rupees. Interestingly, the school authorities have failed to detect the irregularities and received the rice bags without proper measuring.
On the other hand, officials of the supply department are reportedly expressing reluctance in revealing anything about the scam. The irregularities have come to the fore after OTV correspondents reached the schools and weighed the rice bags.
Every 50kg rice bag contains 3-4kilo less rice. Hundreds of rice bags are supplied to various schools on a monthly basis. This has been going on for years now, it was alleged.
When questioned, the school authorities claimed they cannot weigh the rice bags as they do not have a weight machine. They claimed that attempts were being made to hush up the scam. Many teachers had been forced to make register entry for the rice supply without weighing it.
“Yes, there has been a shortage of rice than the actual quantity in the bags. We had tried to warn the supply agencies, but to no avail,” said Kishore Chandra Behera, headmaster-in-charge, Narendra UP School.
“They say that it is exactly 50kg. Since, we do not have a weighing machine, we believe them and store it. But, we have also noticed there has been shortage in the rice bags,” said Alaka Manjari Mahakud, headmistress-in-charge Jeevika UP School.
The irregularities will run into crores, sources said. It is alleged that the officials looking after rice supply are involved in the scam in connivance with the supply agencies.
Worth mentioning, over 80 Cluster Resource Centre Coordinators (CRCCs) of Koraput and Bolangir districts respectively have been replaced by the School and Mass Education department on charges of irregularities in MDM Scheme. Similarly, the Data Entry Operators under the scheme at block levels in both districts have also been disengaged.