Do the starving really need a Rs 12,000 carpet?

Women and Child Development department is allowing wasteful purchases, with no checks in place, in the name of providing better life to disadvantaged children, allege sources

The State Women and Child Development department, entrusted with the care of underprivileged children through the Centre's Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has become a sanctioning agency for huge unmindful purchases, according to informed sources.

MiD DAY report on September 1

After MiD DAY reported on Thursday ('450 kids starve to death') about some of their allegedly dubious purchase orders issued at the department level in 2010 and 2011, it has come to light that the purchase details of 2009 are also highly controversial, the source claimed. In that year, Rs 1.92 crore was spent on carpets procured under the scheme.

The figures are based on certain documents we have accessed. The government order (copy with MiD DAY) issued in October 2009 says Rs 32.67 lakh was spent on weekly syllabus timetables; each cost Rs 198. 

Similarly, in December the same year, the government sanctioned purchases of carpets of Rs 1.92 crore, each bought at Rs 12,608.

An official, on condition of anonymity, said, "Many things do not reach the beneficiaries. The transactions merely remain on paper. This has been going on for years."  Functionaries said that the government has swung into action and will soon depute a team of officials to assess the ground realities.

Minister for women and child development, Professor Varsha Gaikwad, who was on a tour of Vidarbha recently, said, "Hygiene and sanitation are the most important for the development of children. The situation in Vidarbha is not as bad as it is being made out to be. But we will take every effort for the betterment of children." Some 47,000 children were found malnourished in the region.

A highly-placed source said that even before Gaikwad assumed charge of the department in November 2010, the administration had been sanctioning huge funds for suspicious purchases for years, without even verifying the actual delivery and quality of the goods. 

Some of the purchases made in 2009
Education kit:
Rs 498 each;
Total cost: Rs 4.54 crore
Fit-in puzzle: Rs 90 per piece
Anatomy chart: Rs 198 per piece, and a book on environment science for Rs 222 A set of glasses, spoons and small plates was purchased for Rs 1,225 each;
Total cost: Rs 1.51 crore.
Growth charts for Rs 1,980 each, total cost Rs 1.02 crore Clip chart based on the theme of sanitation, environment,  health education and pollution: Rs 125 each. Total cost: Rs 97 lakh.
Awareness kits: Rs 297 for a kit with three banners. Total amount spent: Rs 1.34 crore.

Number game
Rs 2400 cr: The budget allotted for the state women and child development department for the current fiscal
Rs 2,100 cr: The budget for the Integrated Child Development Scheme

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