The state government will probe controversial expenditure of Rs17 crore on purchasing dietary supplements to be supplied to the ashram shalas (tribal boarding schools) across the state.
Tribal welfare minister Babanrao Pachpute announced this in the state legislative assembly on Monday. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis had raised the matter during a debate on budgetary allocation for the tribal department.
The Hindustan Times had first reported the case on March 4, 2011. Pachpute’s deputy Rajendra Gavit had objected decision to buy nutritional supplements, arguing that tribal students should be provided with a good diet so that they do not need food supplements. Also, they should be provided with better infrastructure and academic facilities, he had said.
Gavit was reported to have told Pachpute that food supplements, which provide nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibers, fatty acids, or amino acids, were actually needed for children who are so physically weak and malnourished that they are unable to attend school. The Women and Child Welfare Department takes care of this supply through a separate programme.
However, despite Gavit’s opposition, the deal was finalised and the first installment of supply arrived last month.
Like Gavit, Fadnavis too raised similar objections. He said that seriously malnourished would be too weak to attend schools and they should actually be admitted in hospitals and get proper medical treatment. “Please tell us why these supplements were bought in the first place. This is sheer waste of public money.”
Gavit refused to comment on the matter but a senior officer close to him said requesting anonymity that the opposition’s charge and a subsequent assurance for inquiry had vindicated his boss’ objections.
“Gavit wanted his senior to use the money spent on supplements for creating good infrastructure in tribal schools. Now, we hope that the remaining deal is scrapped,” said the officer.