Baripada: Rice being provided under mid-day meal (MDM) scheme has allegedly been embezzled instead of being given to the children at their doorsteps during Covid-19 pandemic in Mayurbhanj district.
Supply agencies, officials of the State Civil Supplies and the School and Mass Education (S&ME) departments are allegedly complicit in the irregularities.
Meanwhile, officials are reluctant to reveal the exact data about supply of MDM rice during the pandemic. The irregularities have come to the fore after some guardians of Betanoti block have taken up the issue with S&ME Minister Samir Ranjan Dash.
Reports said around 2,97,945 children are studying in 4,043 schools under 26 blocks in the district for whom approximately 300 quintal rice is needed for their noon meals every day.
Owing to Covid restrictions, the schools had to remain shut since March 24, 2020.
However, the government wanted to supply per head quota of rice to the children. It directed the S&ME department to deliver the rice to the children at their doorstep.
The supply was more or less seamless for around three months. The Civil Supplies department was allowed to supply rice from July 2020 to December 2021.
Later, the MDM wing of the district education department was given the responsibility. However, it was alleged that the officials looking after rice supply at the block education office misappropriated the grain in connivance with supply agencies.
At least 9,000 quintal rice was officially supplied to the kids monthly, but in reality rice for scores of children has been pilfered. The irregularities will run into crores, said sources.
“Attempts are being made to hush up the scam,” some teachers on condition of anonymity said, and added that in many cases teachers had been forced to make register entry of rice supply.
Locals have sought detailed information about the rice supplied to the schoolchildren from the district education office, but to no avail.
District education officer Nabakishore Giri said, “I can only say about it after verifying files of the rice supply from the staffers concerned,” he added.
Hemanta Das, president of the district Congress unit, asserted that irregularities to the tune of crores will come out if a proper investigation is carried out.