Patiala, August 19
Officials from the Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development have allegedly misappropriated funds from the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), intended for nutritional feeding of poor children in Anganwadi centres.
During a special audit of five districts from 2014 to 2017, the Accountant General (Audit) revealed that funds worth millions had been diverted to purchase shoddy food containers at inflated rates. The five districts where Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNP) funds were The hijacked are Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and SBS Nagar.
The SNP aims to provide nutrition to children under six and pregnant and lactating women to improve their health and nutritional status. The program is implemented through a network of Anganwadi workers under the ICDS. The audit report found that a careful review of records from all five districts revealed that the department had purchased food storage containers from SNP funds in violation of guidelines. Containers have been purchased in nine districts using SNP funds. However, the AG only audited five districts because expenditures incurred in these districts were the highest among the nine.
Asked about any action on the matter, Arvind Pal Sandhu, director of the Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development, said: “Senior officials are looking into the matter. It is a ministerial question. »
Meanwhile, Kirpa Shankar Saroj, who has been given the additional post of principal secretary of the department, said he would look into the matter.
The audit noted that the five selected districts spent Rs 807.22 lakh on a purchase order of 30,085 containers, each having a capacity of 100 kg. Container tariffs were, however, different across districts – ranging from Rs 2,980 to Rs 3,429.
The audit also observed that containers of almost similar specification (90-100 kg capacity) were being procured by other districts at low rates even at Rs 814.
Had the purchases been made at a centralized location at headquarters level, a provisional saving of Rs 707.22 lakh could have been realized, the audit pointed out. The audit also pointed out that the food grain storage capacity of each container should be 100 kg. However, the containers had less storage capacity than promised in the tender. In addition, hundreds of containers were not entered in the inventory register.
Gross anomalies in 5 districts of Punjab
- Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and SBS Nagar
- Expend Rs 807.22L on purchase order of 30,085 containers
- Container rates varied by district, ranging from Rs 2,980 to Rs 3,429
- Other districts bought them at lower rates, as low as Rs 814