Mid-day meal (MDM) kitchens at the schools in Galsi 1 block in East Burdwan were yet to be refurbished, the funds allocated for the purpose however have already been disbursed in favour of a civil contractor by the local BDO.
The sabhapati of the panchayat samiti and the samiti karmadhyaksha for PWD together have objected and complained about the matter to the chief minister today.
The east Burdwan administration had allocated Rs 2.19 crore for setting up and repairs of the MDM kitchens in 2,190 school premises during 2021-22. BDO Galsi 1 Debolina Das was scheduled to invite the bidders through an online tender for refurbishment of 144 MDM kitchens in her block, as per the state rules. The BDO, Das however chose the offline mode and the entire contract was awarded to a single contractor Abhijit Konar, surprisingly. The district authority had allocated Rs 14.44 lakh for Galsi 1 block for the purpose, Rs 10,000 for each school.
Payment worth Rs 13.71 lakh has already been disbursed in favour of Konar, the contractor who was yet to lay a single brick in the schools, incidentally. On 29 April the part payment worth Rs 4.47 lakh was made in Konar’s favour by clearance of a cheque (No. 000140) and on last 6 May another cheque (No. 000144) of Rs 9.24 lakh was issued to him for the ‘completion’ of the ‘work’.
Sheikh Rokeya, the sabhapati of the Trinamul Congress-run Galsi 1 panchayat samiti said, “We were yet to ascertain why the BDO had chosen the offline mode instead of the more transparent online bidding. After some physical verification of ‘works’ by our karmadhyaksha, PWD, the matter of the BDO’s corrupt practice was clear to us. When we chased her, she remained tight-lipped, which made us more suspicious.”
The Karmadhyaksha, PWD in Galsi 1, Fazila Begum visited the premises of a number of the 144 chosen schools for physical verification of the ‘works’ recently. She said, “After visiting four dozen schools, I couldn’t find a single refurbished MDM kitchen. All were still in a shamble. I was hopeless and brought the matter to the notice of the samiti with substantial photographs.” She alleged, “It’s a clear case of siphoning government funds meant for the schools and we’ve informed everything to the chief minister’s office seeking her intervention.” BDO Das said, “Since the schools remained closed due to summer vacation, the civil contractor agency couldn’t start work. He’s assured us that he’ll complete the work after the schools resume classes.”
Asked how the full payment against the work that was yet to begin could be made to the agency, Das replied: “We’ve followed every protocol. There’s nothing wrong.”