The Madhya Pradesh Assembly adjourned for the day on Wednesday following Opposition protests over an NDTV report on irregularities in the implementation of a supplementary nutrition scheme for school children. Earlier this month, NDTV, which had access to a confidential report from the state’s own auditor, reported staggering levels of corruption, from ration trucks revealed to be motorcycles to wild exaggeration of the number of beneficiaries, in the ambitious free food scheme. which aimed to address the problem of child malnutrition.
Previously, the Chamber adjourned twice during Question Time due to protests over the issue.
At the beginning of the Question Hour, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan requested permission from Speaker Girish Gautam to make a detailed statement on the issue to clear up the Opposition’s “confusion” on the matter. The Speaker authorized Mr. Chouhan to make the statement after Question Time.
However, opposition leader Dr. Govind Singh of Congress objected that around 15 adjournment motions had been tabled on this issue and that they should be discussed before the Chief Minister was allowed to make his statement. However, the Speaker refused to give in to the Opposition’s demand.
After Question Time, when the Chief Minister rose to speak on the matter, a mass protest broke out with the Opposition demanding that they be allowed to speak first. Congress MLAs jumped into the House pit, chanted against the Chief Minister and sang bhajans for not being able to speak through the required adjournment motion first.
Meanwhile, Chouhan continued to read his statement despite loud protests from opposition MLAs.
The Chief Minister denied irregularities in the implementation of the scheme, saying that the Auditor General’s audit report on the scheme was provisional in nature and that a vehicle number mentioned in it was not registered on the “Vahan” portal of the department of transportation.
“The audit was carried out between 2018 and 2021 and the preliminary report was sent to the state government by the Accountant General on August 12, 2022. But it was only a preliminary report and not the final report. The preliminary report refers to 2018 to 2021 , which also includes 15 months of congressional government. We are committed to focused research on all points in the report, regardless of which government was in power in the state,” he said.
“Our previous government had conducted a baseline survey of adolescent girls (ages 11-14) in 2018 and sent the report to the center, according to which the total number of girls not attending school was 2.52 lakh (which includes those girls as well. whose name is registered in school, but they do not actually go to school.) The number of beneficiary girls under the scheme from 2018 to 2021 was only 5.51 lakh. 36 lakh mentioned in the preliminary report refers to the total Out of School Adolescent Girls and Non-Adolescent Girls (OOSAG),” it added.
“In March 2018, our government took the job of producing THR away from private companies and handed it over to women’s SHGs, but the subsequent Congressional government handed it over to MP State Agro Industries Development Corporation Limited in November 2019, which resulted in MP Agro taking all the THR plants under their control in February 2020. This ultimately resulted in the mob’s goal being kept out of the THR system, it was actually lost. power in March 2020, our government reverted all THR work back to women’s self-help groups from September 2021. Instead of 200 private contractors, the work has now been assigned to over 2000 women’s SHGs , whose collective turnover is around Rs 60 million,” said the Chief Minister.
On the issue of dubious vehicle challans mentioned in the report, the Chief Minister said that out of 81 vehicle challans, 31 were issued during the term of Congress.
“Actions have already been initiated against 104 officials found responsible for irregularities, including the suspension of 22 agents and the dismissal of another six from the service. The pension of three agents has been withheld, increments of two agents have been withheld and it is being carried out. conducted a departmental investigation against 40 officers,” he said
In reaction to the Chief Minister’s statement, the MLA Jitu Patwari Congress demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister and an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged scam.
“People accused of fraud are giving statements in the house, if the leaders of Congress are responsible they should be sanctioned but at least discuss first,” he said.
The confidential 36-page report by the Accountant General of Madhya Pradesh, accessed exclusively by NDTV, found large-scale fraud, irregularities in beneficiary identification, production, distribution and quality control of the ambitious free school feeding scheme.
Some of the most notable findings in the report were based on an examination of around 24 per cent of beneficiaries of the Take Home Ration (THR) scheme for 2021, a program tasked with providing much-needed food to 49.58 lakh children. and registered women.
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