Bhadrak: Large-scale irregularities have allegedly scuttled the purpose of kitchen garden programme in Bhadrak district. Funds to the tune of over Rs 76 lakh have been embezzled in the implementation of the scheme, a report said.
Notably, the kitchen garden programme was launched in 2018 with an aim of serving nutritious food to children in the mid-day meal (MDM) at some schools with adequate infrastructure.
Saplings of banana, papaya, lemon, coconut and other vegetables had been provided to these schools with help of the agriculture, the panchayati raj and other departments.
The district education officer and the block education officers were tasked to monitor the implementation of the programme. As per provision, each school was provided with a special grant of Rs 5,000.
The agriculture and horticulture departments had been asked to supply seeds and saplings while other departments were asked to bear the cost of the water supply to the kitchen gardens.
In some cases it was found that many schools lacking infrastructure were provided some saplings of banana and papaya. Lakhs of rupees were misappropriated through supply of seeds and saplings.
Just after the launch of kitchen garden initiative, Covid pandemic forced the government to close schools and colleges, leading to suspension of mid-day meals.
About two years have passed since the closure of schools. Now, only rice and some money are given to children towards midday meal.
According to information available from the district education office, Rs 76.05 lakh has been provided by the school and mass education department to 1,521 schools for kitchen gardens.
MDM is being implemented in 1,774 schools in the district. Lawyer Gadadhar Dhal said that government funds are being misappropriated for lack of monitoring by the top officials.