Lapses cost Mid-Day Meal dear [The Sangai Express]

IMPHAL, Oct 15 : Following detection of discrepancies and lapses in implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Manipur, around Rs seven crores are being held back.

An official source informed that the amount of Rs seven crores which could not be released due to discrepancies were meant for purchasing curry material, firewood for cooking food and payment of honorarium to cooks.

As a rule, the Government release funds for buying curry materials, firewood and honorarium amounts to bank accounts of the respective schools.

The Government released funds for buying these materials and honorarium amounts till the month of September last year.

However, on account of the failure of schools to submit APRs to the Government for the money they received, Mid-Day Meal funds for the period October 2010 to October 2011 have not been released yet.

The Finance Department has already issued strong instructions not to release further funds until APRs for the money received earlier are submitted.

Generally, funds are released after approval by Finance Department through Treasury Mode System to banks directly in the form of e-transfer. The banks would then deposit the amounts in the respective accounts of the schools.

Through this system, the funds can reach the school accounts directly.

But when it comes to collection of APRs, there are certain ambiguities and it is not clearly defined whether collection of APRs should be done by banks or Government officials like AIs or DIs.

It is said that AIs and DIs who are directly handling Mid-Day Meal Scheme are instructed to collect APRs.

However, as the funds were directly deposited in their respective accounts by banks, school authorities were not serious when AIs/DIs went to collect APRs.

Again, for schools located far away from district headquarters, their authorities have no intention to come all the way to district quarters to submit APRs.

But Mid-Day Meal scheme has no provision to give allowances to AIs and DIs for collecting APRs from remote and far off schools.

As for rice given under the scheme, there is no problem as AIs and DIs collect signatures of Headmasters/Headmistresses before given them rice.

Though no funds have been released since October last year, Headmasters/Headmistresses submit files of giving meals to students by buying the food materials and firewood on credit.

As such, the amount of Rs seven crores currently held back may go in reimbursing the amounts reportedly spent by Headmasters/Headmistresses in buying the food materials on credit as and when the amount is released.

Even as the APRs could not be collected in time, the State Government has been submitting utilisation certificates in time for the funds released by the Centre for Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

Source: The Sangai Express

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