Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Furniture scam in Bidar Zilla Panchayat

Bidar: inquiry reveals Rs. 2-cr. irregularities

Rishikesh Bahadur Desai
Schools procured materials without inviting tenders: report
Rs 1.96 crore released for purchasing desks, library and laboratory materials in April 2007

Action recommended against headmasters of 130 government schools

Bidar: An inquiry into the alleged violations of rules in the procurement of furniture and equipment for government schools in Bidar district has revealed irregularities to the tune of nearly Rs. 2 crore.

Education Department officials who conducted the inquiry have recommended the Bidar Zilla Panchayat to take action against headmasters of 130 government schools, official sources said.

Funds

The State Government released Rs 1.96 crore for purchasing desks, and library and laboratory materials for high schools in April 2007. However, school development and management committees (SDMCs) failed to utilise the amount till their term ended in January 2008. The SDMCs were dissolved when the term of gram panchayats ended in January 2008.

The Education Department then decided to purchase furniture and equipment immediately as the fund would have lapsed by March. Subsequently, the zilla panchayat release money to the headmasters and directed them to work with block education officers (BEOs) and procure the materials.

Later, some zilla panchayat members complained to the authorities that there was no transparency in the procurement process and sought an inquiry. The Commissioner of Public Instruction, Bangalore, ordered an inquiry in November 2008. The inquiry has been completed and a report submitted to the Government.

“The inquiry has found that tenders were not invited by any school. Only some schools had obtained quotations from multiple suppliers. One headmaster said that he had got only one quotation by post and he had to award the contract to the supplier as there was no time. Another headmaster said he had awarded the contract to a particular supplier favoured by the Block Education Officer. But he has no proof of this. Such reasons cannot justify lack of transparency,” Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat Jitendra Naik said.

“The Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act says that tenders have to be invited for procurements valued over Rs. 1 lakh. For all purchases less than Rs. 1 lakh, the officer concerned should obtain quotations from multiple suppliers and choose the most cost-effective one. These provisions, however, have been clearly violated by the headmasters,” Mr. Naik said.

Disciplinary action

He said disciplinary action would be initiated against the headmasters once the action is approved by the general body of the new zilla panchayat.

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