The Municipal Chief Auditor has slammed the civic administration for coming up with a grossly high estimate of student numbers while procuring stationery and other items for free distribution, leading to a needless expenditure of Rs 70 lakh.
The Education Department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) came up with a figure of 9,840 new students who would need these items, but in reality only 2,889 took admission.
These facts were revealed in the civic audit report for the year 2007-08 that was tabled before the Standing Committee recently.
The department wanted to start 84 English medium schools for junior KG, senior KG and Std I in the city, but could start only 36 of these as just 2,889 students turned up for admission instead of the estimated 9,840.
The department spent over Rs 2 crore on the purchase of notebooks, geometry boxes, uniforms, raincoats and other items for students, of which
Rs 70 lakh expenditure was incurred on the extra items.
The auditor’s report (copy with MiD DAY) also suggested that the department, while estimating the number of new students, arrive at a figure that is 10 per cent more or less than the number of students admitted in schools during the previous academic year.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Education Department) Arvind Hire said he had not yet seen the audit report.
“Normally, we deduct the items which we have over-purchased in the past year from the current year’s estimates and balance the figures,” Hire said.
Hire declined to comment on an allegation by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator Sandeep Deshpande that the BMC bought the items at higher rates than prevalent in the market.
Deshpande, who voiced his objections on the purchase rates in the Standing Committee, has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court alleging corruption in the awarding of contracts for the 27 items supplied to students.
“There is not only an overestimation in the number of students, but also a difference between the rates at which the items were purchased by the BMC and the market rates,” Deshpande, a corporator from Dadar, said. “The BMC has paid much higher than the market rates for the items.”
An Education Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, admitted that there was a difference in the rates.
“The BMC cannot buy directly from the market but has to follow the set procedure for purchases,” the official said. “There is a system of bidding and no manufacturing company participates in the bidding process, so the purchasing process has to go through a mediator, which is why there is a difference in the rates.”
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