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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Setback to Punjab govt: Centre sends fact-finding team

Vishal Rambani , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh/Patiala, June 12, 2013
First Published: 00:54 IST(12/6/2013) | Last Updated: 00:58 IST(12/6/2013)

In a setback to education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka and the Punjab government, the union ministry of human resource development has sent a special fact-finding team to probe the irregularities in Central funds meant for education.

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Earlier also, the state Congress had demanded such a team to probe embezzlement of border area development funds in Attari constituency, represented by animal husbandary minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, but the Centre had not agreed to that.

The four-member team will look into allegations of poor quality of products, inappropriate books and violation of procurement system. Hindustan Times had earlier carried reports highlighting the scam.
Headed by Ranjana Arora, associate professor, secondary school department, NCERT, the team comprises child literature expert Subir Shukla; chief consultant of procurement in Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Gopaian; and under secretary, finance, ministry of human resource development, Arun Kumar, who will visit Punjab from June 12 to 14 to prepare their report.

In a confidential letter to the principal secretary (education), a copy of which is with HT, Rajender Prasad, under secretary, wrote, "I am directed to inform you that complaints have been received in the ministry about alleged financial irregularities in purchase of library books in SSA and purchase of science kits in Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) in Punjab. The complaints were about poor quality of products, inappropriate books and violation of procurement system. In view of above, a fact-finding team is coming and you are requested to facilitate the team in their examination process."

According to the communication, the team will examine whether the procurement procedure as laid in the SSA/RMSA financial manual has been followed in the procurement of library books and science kits; how much expenditure has been incurred on the above two items by SSA/RMSA, Punjab; whether the procedure of payment was in order; and whether the quality of science kits in the RMSA is as per standard or of good quality.

Besides, the committee will take samples of books to study whether library books purchased/shortlisted under the SSA meet the criteria of being age appropriate, have good content and are of a variety fit for elementary school content.

The team will visit the office of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and other places to finalise its report, which they will submit to HRD minister M Pallam Raju, whom the Punjab Congress delegation had met demanding an inquiry. 

Confirming the arrival of the team, Anjali Bhawra, principal secretary, education, said the department would provide all help to the team in their examination of processes adopted and material procured/shortlisted.

Maluka is in controversy after he allegedly bypassed rules for procurement and adopted a parallel procedure through his handpicked there-member committee, comprising DPI (secondary), DEO (Mohali) and finance officer of the education board, who all are suspended after a preliminary inquiry by DGSE Kahan Singh Pannu indicted them and recommended a full-fledged inquiry in the case.


In a setback to education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka and the Punjab government, the union ministry of human resource development has sent a special fact-finding team to probe the irregularities in Central funds meant for education.

Earlier also, the state Congress had demanded such a team to probe embezzlement of border area development funds in Attari constituency, represented by animal husbandary minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, but the Centre had not agreed to that.

 

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