For govt, this dept is child of a lesser god

It seems as if the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) enjoys no luck in getting good officers.

The news of the transfer of M E Shivalingamurthy, Managing Director, Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Limited as Director of DWCD has stirred up a controversy as child rights groups and activists are up in arms over what they see as a damaging move.

Shivalingamurthy has been implicated in the U V Singh mining report.

The transfers came as a surprise to many in the Department itself as four other names had been shortlisted and consultations were being held about their suitability for the post. It is learnt that the names of IAS officers Darpan Jain, Shikha C, Adoni Syed Saleem and KAS officer Anjan Kumar had been shortlisted.

“Nowhere had Shivalingamurthy’s name figured in the list. All these officers were shortlisted for their good track record. This comes as a real shock to us,” a member of a child rights group said.

Sources close to Minster for Women and Child Development C C Patil, said the Minister himself has been caught off guard with the appointment to the all important post. Patil, who will return to Bangalore on Monday, is expected to speak to the chief minister about the appointment. The sources said the Department’s Principal Secretary, Ramesh B Zalki, was also very unhappy with the appointment.

The DWCD had frequently come under attack during the last two years for the handling of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) by Shamla Iqbal, the previous Director. Accusations have also been rampant about the misuse of funds under the scheme and the propriety of giving the contract for supply of food items to anganwadis to Christy Friedgram Industry. A complaint has been lodged with the Lokayukta as well. The recent highlighting of rising malnutrition of children in the State has cast a shadow over the department’s ability and inclination to tackle these issues.

The Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), a consortium of over 60 child rights organisations across Karnataka, has slammed Shivalingamurthy’s posting. “We expected the chief minister to appoint an efficient and honest officer to this important post. But he has replaced an officer who was responsible for many irregularities in the ICDS with an officer indicted for his involvement in the mining scam,” a CACL press release said.

Accusations

Shivalingamurthy’s name figures in the Lokayukta’s second report on mining at least thrice.

* As Director of Mines, he issued mineral dispatch permits without taking approval of the Centre, for transfer of rights or interest to new managing partners of Associated Mining Company.

* He submitted a proposal for conversion of a piece of land as patta land without verifying the facts of the land grant in Ramgad block and other places in Sandur taluk. He had not obtained the No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the Deputy Commissioner, modified the original document of the status of the land, submitted a false report and manipulated records to show undue favour to KSL Swamy, the applicant.

* He signed a mining lease indenture on behalf of the State government with Matha Minerals company and indulged in a series of violations including of provisions under Section 5 of the MMRD Act, 1957.

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