Irregularities found in education sector

The local fund audit report of the city Corporation for 2011-12, set to be published this week, has pulled up the local body for a wide range of irregularities, including laxity in tax collection and unrealistic budget estimation, which has led to a huge gap of Rs.459.6 crore between expected revenue and actual revenue for the year.

Of the 1,331 projects sanctioned for the year (including 821 spillover projects from the previous year), only 822 could be completed. The shortfall is most notable in infrastructure development: only 508 out of 905 projects were implemented. Only 12.5 per cent of the fund allocations were utilised.

The auditors have reserved the sharpest criticism for the Corporation’s performance in the education sector, with over 20 projects found to have serious irregularities. In most of these, the standing committee chairperson and the councillors who attended the meeting in which the respective project was passed have been listed as the persons responsible for the failure, in addition to the implementing officer.

Seminars and melas

“The focus in the education sector was in conducting seminars and melas, instead of concentrating on the improvement of basic infrastructure and tangible improvements in the academic quality of the students.” Funds were also spent on purposes for which the State government was running programmes.

The Padanaveedu project, meant to set up centres to give special classes in the evening for students with low performance, was found to be ineffective.

An amount of Rs.8.92 lakh was spent on this in three schools. The details of the programme implementation or the student beneficiaries are not available.

No bills

Only a signed White Paper for the amount received by the respective headmasters was provided to the auditors. Bills, for expenses including a ‘study tour,’ were not provided. Similar is the case with the Padippura project to set up evening study centres in Scheduled Caste areas.

Also, the Corporation need not have spent funds on both these projects as they were being implemented in schools using the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan fund. A project to improve SSLC results in various government schools through a 100-day training programme never took off, though Rs.5.65 lakh meant for this was still deposited in the Deputy Director of Education’s current account.

The permission for this project was secured only on February 29, with the SSLC examinations just a week away.

Scholarship project

The Rs.99.13-lakh Manas and Vikas projects to provide scholarship to mentally challenged students were found to have irregularities as no medical certificates of the beneficiaries were provided.

The report has raised doubts of fudging of numbers in the case of some schools. Also, no documents were provided to prove the distribution of Rs.65.45 lakh out of the total funds.

Sports equipment

Funds to the tune of Rs.5 lakh to buy sports equipment in government schools were diverted to buy equipment for 54 ‘registered sports clubs.’ The lowest bidder was rejected, and the receipts were found to have corrections.

The rejection of the lowest bidder for a project to buy high school laboratory equipments caused losses of Rs.4.14 lakh.

Another project of Rs.3 lakh to provide computer training for lower primary school teachers was found to violate a government order of 2004, as per which training programmes should be restricted to those from below the poverty line (BPL) categories or for self-employment. In most such training programmes, the attendance registers and the details of the courses were found to be absent.