CAG finds irregular payment in midday meal scheme

CAG finds irregular payment in midday meal scheme

Agencies pocketed over Rs 47 crore in excess

CAG finds irregular payment in midday meal scheme

Agencies implementing the Centrally-sponsored mid-day meal scheme pocketed over Rs 47 crore in excess of the actual cost incurred on transportation of foodgrain in 10 states including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General's report.

Of the total payment of Rs 47.49 crore made to the central scheme implementation agencies in excess of the actual cost, the national auditor’s estimates indicated that about Rs 37 crore was claimed on “irregular expenditure” on transportation of foodgrain from godowns of Food Corporation of India to various school in Uttar Pradesh alone.

Other states listed by the CAG for such financial irregularities are Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland with irregular payment in excess of the actual cost of transportation ranging from Rs 16 lakh to Rs 4.47 crore.

The audit findings of gross financial irregularities in the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in many states do not end here.

 The CAG report also observed that Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and seven other state governments together earned Rs 103.95 crore as interest keeping huge amounts of central grants un-utilised in their bank accounts and did not disclose it while submitted fund utlislisation certificates with the Centre.

The Bihar government parted away with highest Rs 54.46 crore earned as interest on unspent balance kept at bank, followed by Madhya Pradesh Rs 26.55 crore, Haryana Rs 5.80 crore, Odisha 5.35 crore and Uttar Pradesh Rs 4.11 crore.

Besides, as many as nine states did not give any account to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry while submitting unitilisation certificates about the crores of unspent balance they had kept in their bank accounts.

While the CAG estimated that Rs 89.84 crore unspent balance remained unreported by these states, it noted that Haryana had the biggest share of Rs 38.90 crore, followed by Odisha Rs 32.73 crore, Uttarkhand Rs 4.77 croe, Madhya Pradesh Rs 3.82 crore and Karnataka Rs 2.54 crore.

“Unspent balance towards central assistance was to be refunded to the Ministry after the close of financial year or to be adjusted by the Ministry against the central assistance to be given in next year,” the CAG noted. In Lakshdweep, unspent balance of grants of Rs 130.24 lakh received between 2009-10 and 2013-14 were neither refunded to the Ministry nor adjusted in next year’s release.

“Retention of huge balance in bank by the UT government (Lakshadweep) indicates weak internal control mechanism in the ministry”.