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Incorrect report

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With reference to the report You may pay more tax to fund quota (February 19), the education cess levied in 2004 provides funds for two key elementary education programme, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the mid-day meal scheme. The education cess proceeds are gathered in the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh, which has been notified on August 30, 2006, and can be seen in the budget papers of the Government of India annually.

Upto November 2006, against a budget estimate of Rs 11,000 crore for SSA in 2006-07, Rs 8,493.59 cr (81.2 per cent) had been released by GoI to the state/UT SSA programmes. By February 15, 2007, the release to the states is at 96 per cent. Thus, to say that two-thirds of funds remained ‘unspent’ for SSA in the current year in first eight months is incorrect. By December 2006, the SSA had utilised up to 75 per cent. This figure was 60 per cent utilisation at end of September 2006. The reporter’s assumption that SSA is not utilising its funds is wrong.

By December 2006, the states/UTs had provided their state share to the extent of 29 per cent, which is well above the stipulated 25 per cent requirement of states’ contribution. Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have always released their matching state contribution. In 2005-06, the SSA budget utilisation was 97.03 per cent and not 55 per cent as written in the article.

DK Gautam, Ministry of HRD,Delhi

Unfair criticism

The detention of Ottavio Quattrochhi in Argentina is not incidental but done deliberately to pressurise the Indian government at a time when the Indian economy is doing well. The Opposition must realise we are more concerned about inflation and lack of infrastructure.

Praveen verma, Delhi

No God for terrorists

Prem Shankar Jha, in his article Ticket to ride (February 23), is right that the Samjhauta attack was to increase differences between India and Pakistan. Terrorists have no religion and no God.

Sunil Dogra, Delhi

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