Suggest recovery of funds spent against norms from DDE

A project to improve the educational standards of children in slum areas implemented using the Corporation’s development fund for 2010-11 does not seem to have fulfilled its objectives with the funds for the same being utilised for everything from sewing machines to a steel cupboard. The City Corporation’s audit report for the year says that the funds so diverted against the norms should be recovered from the Deputy Director of Education (DDE), who is responsible for running the project.

The project was approved by the District Planning Committee (DPC) on July 20, 2010. An amount of Rs.1.25 lakh was spent in three phases for the project that was allocated a total of Rs.2.5 lakhs.

The audit report says that the first of the controversial expenses on this project was made on 30 March, 2011, with the purchase of two sewing machines for Rs.8,923. Though the money for this and other expenses were drawn from the treasury, no records exist for whether these machines have been included in the stock. No bills for the purchase were made available for the audit.

The decision to purchase the machines is curious as the DPC had, in 2010, added an amendment to the project plan that ‘purchase of sewing machines are not allowed as part of improving the educational standards’.

In view of this, the audit report says that it cannot approve the purchase and the DDE has to refund the amount to the development fund.

The report says that only a very small amount of time has been spent on training programmes to improve the academic performance of the students from slums, which was the sole purpose of the project.

However, a large portion of the time and money were spent on training them in the making of paper bags, Christmas stars, notebooks, soaps, ornaments, and cloth bags. No information was provided on benefits of the project or the number of students who benefited from the project.

Explanation sought

Another purchase which has been mentioned in the audit is that of Rs.24,400, which was spent on a computer and laser printer. Such a purchase is deemed unnecessary as bulk purchase of computers for schools is made through the IT@School project. The amount is blocked by the auditor citing this reason. An explanation is also sought on the purchase of a steel cupboard for Rs.4,944 when the permission was only for a wooden cupboard.

According to the auditor, the absence of a monitoring committee report points to lack of monitoring in any phase of the project.

Similar anomalies have been detected in the project to upgrade the lab facilities in vocational higher secondary schools, for which an amount of Rs.7 lakh was earmarked from the maintenance fund. As per the norms for purchases related to the IT@School project, the first preference should be given to Keltron. However, in this case, the purchases were made from a private firm in the city. The purchases were on the same lines in the case of a similar project for upper primary schools. Also, the computers were not installed with Linux, Open Office, and a free anti-virus software as stipulated by IT@School.

The report further says that the actions on the project seem to have ended at purchase of the equipment. No information was given on the implementation or its monitoring.

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