Odisha govt diverted central funds through OKCL: RTI query

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has been diverting funds meant for development of computer education in the State by routing them through the Odisha Knowledge Corporation (OKCL) rather than through the State Institute of Educational Technology (SIET), an RTI query revealed.

According to the RTI query, central aid worth Rs 200 crore were issued between 2011 and 2015 for Information Communication Technology (ICT) courses to be imparted through the SIETs located in various places.

However, the Odisha Government had utilized this amount through OKCL while closing down the SIET institutes, sources said.

Sources revealed that the Odisha government entrusted the government ICT programme to a non-government entity like OKCL.

Surprisingly, OKCL is a higher education initiative while ICT is a mass education programme. Now questions are being raised how funds meant for mass education were utilised by a higher education institute.

When the then OKCL Chairman Bijay Patnaik, was asked about the discrepancies, he did not reveal much details.
“I cannot comment without seeing the necessary documents,” he said.

Satyanarayan Sahoo, an employee of SIET said “OKCL was formed by a gazette notification. However, the new secretary stated that ‘on verification OKCL was found to be a private entity’. How come nobody from the administration suspected OKCL to be a private institution?”

Moreover, OKCL has been alleged to have committed fraud worth crores in the name of Computer Literacy Programme (OS-CIT). The institute raised money from contracted computer institutes in various blocks by citing government courses and mentioning the name of Higher Education Department in advertisements, sources said.

Similarly, OKCL allegedly collected around Rs 8.64 crore from teachers of 4,000 schools to impart computer education.

However, the fraud by OKCL came to light during an audit when it was revealed that no one received computer training.

BJP leader Golak Mohapatra said “The government allotting the ICT courses to OKCL proves the fact that politicians and administrators have close nexus with OKCL officials.”

Congress spokesperson Satya Prakash Nayak said “OKCL is a very good example of a private entity in the garb of government institution, winning trust of people with government backing, and then committing scam.”

Mass Education Minister Badri Narayan Patra however approved of OKCL’s working.

“OKCL was formed emulating Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation. I don’t know much but it is working though,” Patra said.