Deviation at heavy cost

State Government has developed the chronic habit of distorting the norms that Central Government invariably appends to a national level scheme when it is floated. This is usually the fate of most of such schemes in our State. Why does the Government feel it necessary to do so? Various reasons can be assigned. It can reflect non-serious attitude of the Government towards the scheme. It also gives the impression that the State Government wants to draw extra mileage from the scheme to serve vested interests. We have repeatedly pointed out that the State Government advertently treats Central schemes in a way that many complicacies are created. Instead of discussing these complicacies with the sponsoring agency mandarins take decisions on their own and in a manner that suits them. They try to dodge the Central Government. The result is that a time comes when these antics become counterproductive. It recoils in a manner that the State Government finds it is caught on the wrong foot.
The real purpose of appending the norms is that since the scheme is devised, debated and finally passed at Central level through accredited and expert agencies, it is necessary that the recipient state should have the guidelines to educate and appraise it of the ultimate purpose of the Government of India in floating the scheme. We understand that situations, requirements and operational feasibility of these schemes cannot be uniform in a country of heterogeneous character. Some State Governments might need modification or re-adjustment, and these are perfectly legitimate. But they have to keep in mind that deviation from vital components of the roadmap is inadvisable. That could defeat the purpose. And if deviation is unavoidable, the right way to handle the conflicting situation is to discuss the matter with the sponsoring agency and clarify the issues involved.  Contrary to this, we have often found that the State Government takes unilateral decision about inducting modifications in the roadmap and then, evidently, it must face the music.
The case in point is of Central scheme named Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan’ (RMSA). Floated in 2009, State Government had to recruit subject-specific teachers on contractual basis for the upgraded schools at the rate of Rs 27160 per month salary. Besides this, the Ministry of HRD had also committed to assist in completing the construction of 300 school buildings on which work was either in progress or had been abandoned. The Head Masters and Masters had to be appointed on subject basis and paid at the aforesaid rate. What the State Education Department did was to promote the in-service teachers as Masters under the scheme and pay them from funds allocated by the Centre. In doing so, the Department paid these Masters at the rate of Rs. 45000 per month. When the State Government approached the HRD Ministry for release of fund, it flatly refused to pay anything in excess of contractual salary it had fixed. The enhanced salary computes to 50 crore rupees per year which the HRD Ministry refuses to pay then had to be borne by the State Government.
The case of school buildings is as worse. Out of approved 636 new secondary schools under RMSA since 2009, civil work is completed in only 92 schools, which means mere 14.47 percent of the total. Work is in progress in 246 schools while construction is yet to be started in remaining 188 schools. Expenditure on completing construction on about 300 schools also computes to 50 crore rupees. This is a glaring case of mismanagement or deliberate distortion of the outlines of the scheme. As a result, the burden will fall on the State exchequer.  HRD Ministry is not prepared to take the responsibility of cost escalation arguing that the State Education Department has failed to complete the construction of schools in time and the HRD Ministry cannot be made to pay the price for cost escalation. That is what the State Government should have taken care of. Headmasters and Masters who have been inducted under the scheme have not received their salary because there is total confusion. This is how a mess of the whole scheme has been made deliberately.

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