From truckloads of rations found as motorbikes to severely overstated beneficiaries, the Madhya Pradesh government’s feeding program for children has been hampered by eye-popping levels of corruption, putting them at risk of malnutrition and costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Rs, the state auditor found.
A confidential 36-page report by Accountant General of Madhya Pradesh, accessed exclusively by NDTV, has revealed widespread fraud, irregularities in beneficiary identification, production, distribution and quality control of the ambitious free food plan for school children.
Some of the report’s most shocking findings were based on an examination of about 24 percent of recipients of the 2021 Take Home Ration (THR) plan, a program tasked with providing much-needed food to 49.58 lakhs of registered children and women.
This included 34.69 thousand children aged 6 months to 3 years, 14.25 thousand pregnant and breastfeeding women and 0.64 thousand out-of-school teenage girls or OOSAGs aged 11-14 years, based on auditor results on approximately From 12 thousand people.
The scale of the scam was such that trucks claimed by six factories or companies claiming to have been used to transport 1,125.64 metric tons of food rations at a cost of Rs 6.94 crore, were found registered as motorbikes, cars, motor vehicles and tankers when checking the Department of Transportation records.
9000 beneficiaries became 36.08 lakh
Although central and state governments have required central and state governments to complete a survey to identify eligible out-of-school students for food rations by April 2018, WCD did not finish it until February 2021.
While the Department of School Education estimated the number of out-of-school girls at 9,000 in 2018-2019, the WCD Department, without conducting any baseline survey, estimated their number at 36.08 lakh.
During the review, it was found that in 49 Anganwadi centers in eight districts, only three out-of-school girls were enrolled. However, under the same 49 Aanganwadi Centres, the WCD department listed 63,748 girls and claimed to have assisted 29,104 of them during 2018-21.
This indicates the extent to which the data has been manipulated, leading to a fake distribution of rations of Rs 110.83 crore.
Apart from this, rations manufacturing plants are also found reporting by production in excess of their rated and allowable capacity. When raw materials required and electricity consumed were compared to actual rations production, it was found that Rs 58 crore of it was tampered with.
Six plants in Madhya Pradesh, Badi, Dhar, Mandla, Rewa, Sagar and Shivpuri claimed to have supplied 821 metric tons of ration, costing Rs 4.95 crore, although not many were available in the first place.
In eight provinces, Child Development Project officials (CDPOs) received more than 97,000 metric tons of rations from plants, however, only sent about 86,000 metric tons to Aanganwadis.
More than 10,000 metric tons of rations, at a cost of Rs 62.72 crore, were not transported and not made available in the warehouse, indicating that they had been stolen.
Avoid quality checks
While samples of rations need to be sent to independent laboratories outside the state at various stages of their distribution, from factory to Anjanwadi, to check their quality and nutritional value, this has not been done, suggesting that children and women may be poor. Quality stakes.
In eight districts audited, officials did not inspect the Anganwadi centers during 2018-21, indicating weak internal controls as well.
Prime Minister’s Department
The astonishing findings, made by the state auditor, go against the BJP’s claim that it has not been accused of any corruption anywhere it runs the government. The Madhya Pradesh state government has not yet responded to NDTV’s request for comment on the report.
The Department of Women and Child Development has been under the supervision of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan himself since the resignation of BJP leader Imarti Devi in 2020 after his defeat in the by-election.
The THR program is headed and supervised by the additional Principal Secretary for the department. He is assisted by a state director, 10 joint directors, 52 regional program officers, and 453 child development project officers or CDPOs.