PAC slams Govt over inordinate delay in construction of residential schools

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Jan 2018 13:58:06

Staff Reporter, 

Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in its 31st report tabled before the State Legislature during recently held winter session, has pulled up the State Government over inordinate delay in construction of residential schools for Scheduled Caste (SC) students since 2006-07. Besides, it has also pointed out that despite spending crores of rupees on construction of these schools, there is poor response from students.

The PAC report pertains to Social Justice and Special Assistance Department of State Government. The department was to construct 100 residential schools for SC students. The scheme was approved in 2006, and these many schools were to be constructed by the year 2012. However, during the regime of the then Democratic Front (DF) Government led by Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), only 76 schools could be constructed by 2012. Five schools are yet to be handed over to Social Justice Department, construction is still in progress in case of seven schools, six are in the process of administrative approval, and for six schools land is still not available.

Interestingly, the financial provision was made available to Social Justice Department, which had transferred a whopping Rs 571.17 crore to Public Works Department (PWD) for construction of residential schools. However, since 2007, most of this fund remained ‘unutilised’ with PWD. PAC has termed this as a case of ‘financial indiscipline of serious nature’. It has passed strictures against the Government for releasing entire financial provision to the department without emphasising on the progress of construction of the schools. PAC has directed the Finance Department to take up a review of such cases in which entire financial provision was released but most of it remained unutilised with various departments. Either the fund should be utilised with proper planning in place, or such unutilised fund should be utilised for other works of public good. At the same time, PAC has directed the Government to complete construction of remaining of 100 proposed residential schools by the end of the current financial year 2017-18 or surrender the fund that remains unutilised.

After taking stock of the situation and examining the issue in-depth, PAC has pointed out that student enrolment in the residential schools constructed so far is very poor. “Such a poor enrolment despite spending crores of rupees on construction of school building and other infrastructure facilities, is not at all a matter of pride for the Government. This is sheer wastage of funds,” PAC has observed in its report. It has asked the Social Justice Department to take up a massive awareness drive to increase enrolment. “If the student enrolment from weaker sections and reserved category is lower than expected, and if the capacity of the residential schools is under-utilised, the department should explore if the seats could be filled up by giving opportunity to students from other reserved categories,” PAC has mentioned in its report.  PAC has sought from the State Government a report of actions taken on its recommendations, within three months.