Mr. Pradipta Nayak, State Coordinator, IHRE and Member, State-Level Monitoring Committee on MDM, Dept. of S & M E, Govt of Odisha,9437053329
Mr. Dillip Das, Food Rights Activist, Antodaya, Kalahandi, 9437070038
Mr. Tapan Padhi, Secretary, childright and Rights of Child Activist,9437635267
Mr. Pradip Pradhan, State Convener, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, 9937843482
Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi district of Western Odisha is a tribal-dominated block coming under Fifth schedule of Indian Constitution. This tribal dominated Block consisting of 16 Gram Panchayats, 256 Villages with 65767 populations (as per 2001 census) stands infamous for poverty, illiteracy, extreme hunger and malnutrition. Almost all anti-poverty schemes, Food Security programme and Special Projects are undertaken for socio-economic development of the tribal people and to reduce poverty and hunger in this region. Recently, State Govt. has declared this Block as Maoist-affected Block for which “Integrated Action Plan”, a new project of Central Govt. for Maoist-affected areas is undertaken for infrastructure development. However, this Block is still inaccessible surrounded with Hills and deep forests. As per the reports of Planning & Coordination department of Government of Odisha Thuamul Rampur block is the third most under developed block of the state among all 314 blocks considering all development indicators and due to the apathy of the government functionaries the benefits of different development schemes seldom reach to the poor inhabitants of the block. Basic amenities like health, drinking water and education facilities remain as dreams of the villagers in inaccessible pockets.
While getting news from Media and other sources about a lot of discrepancy, corruption and irregularities in food security programme and implementation of Right to Education Act in this Block, a Four- Member Team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha Mr. Pradipta Nayak, Pradip Pradhan, Tapan Padhi and Dillip Das had made a two-day visit to some interior and inaccessible villages of the Block on 17th and 18th May 2012 with the objective to understand the whole food security situation of the tribals in context of implementation of food security programme i.e, Mid-Day-Meal and Integrated Child Development Scheme and Right to Education Act. During two-day visit, the team moved through hilly tracks of the Block to reach villages like Bhejiguda, Permanji, Podapadar, Karlapat, Dalguma, Purunagumma, Simelpadar, Sapmundi and Melingpadar village of Sagada GP under Bhawanipatna Block to understand the implementation of MDM and ICDS schemes and accessibility of tribals to these schemes, situation of primary schools and Primary Education in the Thuamul Rampur Block. The details of the visits, experience of the Team Members and Findings is as follows.
Right to Education Act is being implemented since 2009 with the mandate to ensure free and compulsory education to the children within the age group of 6 to 14. As per Act and State Rules, the State Govt. is duty-bound to ensure required no. of teachers ( one teacher per 30 students) in each school , infrastructure like required class room, school building, drinking water, boundary wall, cooking shed etc. Though implementation of the Act is about more than 3 years, a large number of schools are still deprived of basic infrastructures and required teachers. On the other hand teachers’ absenteeism has posed big threat to the primary school system in this area.
a.In Leling Padar village which comes under Bhawanipatna Block, the Primary school building has got destroyed. The construction of new school building is going on since last two years. The Team members found extreme low quality of work done in the building. As per Govt. instruction, School Management Committee is authorized agency to carry out the construction of school building. But Muna Majhi, President, Village Education Committee ( SMC has not been formed till yet) said that the school teacher Sri Apsar Khan who is habituated to remain absence in the school for last 10 years, has come forward to take up the work ignoring the committee members and the villagers. The Teacher has become the contractor in the village. He uses to come to the school to supervise the on-going construction work not to teach the children. It was found that President and Members of VEC are least concerned about it. As reported by Sadhu Majhi, Ward Member, SMC has not been formed since 2009 after enactment of RTE Act.
When the villagers demanded for formation of new committee, the teacher told them that president would not be changed, unless construction of school building is completed. The reason behind it is that the President of Village Education Committee is drunkard and it is easy for the teacher to take signature of President for withdrawal of money from Bank as the president is one of the joint signatories in the Bank. As per norm, the money sanctioned for construction of building will be placed in the Bank account opened by jointly by President, School committee and teacher. As reported by the villagers, the District administration has sanctioned Rs. 9,17,000 and Rs. 50,000 for construction of school building and cooking shed respectively.
b. Primary Schools like Bhejiguda, Podapadar, Sapmundi are devoid of latrines, boundary wall and drinking water. Though Tube-well has been set up in both the schools, it is defunct for years together. Despite several complaints by the villagers for repair of tube-well, the authority has not taken any step in this regard, alleged by the President of SMCs. Finding no drinking water, the cook is using water from nearby Nallah for preparation of MDM and the children using it as drinking water.
c. In all the villages, the School Committee meeting never sits. It was found that the members are still unaware about their rights and responsibilities as member of SMC. Neither the teachers have discussed with them about their responsibility nor has the district administration conducted any training for them. The teachers are found deliberately avoiding the meeting.
d. In all schools, the villagers made complaints about long absence of teachers in the school. Pada Nayak of Bhejiguda village said that the three teachers Nipindra Bag, Ajit Katha, Chandrasen Singh never come to the school regularly. However they come on rotation just to open the school and serve MDM food. Similarly Bhataguda Project UP School, two school teacher Ghanash Majhi and Santanu Majhi hardly come to the school and many times they come in rotation. The student strength in the school is 60 with class – I to 7. Same situation is in Podapadar, the school has three teachers with 60 students. The teachers come on rotation. Wherever the teachers come, they do not pay much attention to impart education to the children. They come at 11 0’clock and leave the school after MDM is served.
e. The school environment is in bad shape. The Class room and outside area is very dirty which gives glimpses of closure of school for months together. The school teachers is seen very careless in maintaining the school properly.
f. In Karlapata upgraded School which has upto 10th class with student strength of 175 has no kitchen room with shortage of class room and defunct latrine. The teachers are coming on rotation.
g. In many schools visited like Melingpadar, Podapadar, the villagers complained that the school children had not been provided school dress and shoes till yet.
Management of Mid-Day-Meal
MDM programme is one of the most important food security programme implemented for the children throughout the country. It aims to provide protein and nutritious food to the school-going children up to 8th class and ensure presence of all the children in the school. Hearing WPC No. 196/2001 filed by PUCL, the Supreme Court has passed a number of interim orders to provide cooked hot food to all the school-going children during school hours and also in summer vacation period in the drought-prone areas. Since April,2011, the State Govt. has issued new guideline for effective management of MDM in all the school with details of type of food served in every day and allocation of quantity of food per children. During visit to Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi district, the Team Members monitored food served under MDM to the School children and availability of infrastructure like cooking shed for the same.
a.It was found that number of Primary Schools or Project Upper Primary Schools of Karlapat, Melingpadar, Bhejiguda etc. of this Block is devoid of cooking shed. In Bhejiguda Primary School, food is prepared in latrine room and in some times under open sky. In Lelingpadar, cooking shed is under construction for last two years. The Members of SMC are not aware about amount of money sanctioned for the same.
b. The Members of the School Management Committees of all schools are in dark about allocation of quantity of rice and fund for MDM. When they were asked about status of MDM and amount sanctioned for MDM, they expressed their ignorance about the same. MDM is virtually managed by the School teachers not by members of SMC. The teachers simply took their signature for withdrawal of money from the account. It needs to be mentioned here that as per new circular issued by State Govt., an account should be opened jointly by Head Teacher and president of SMC for management of fund allotted for MDM. The SMC members and the villagers in all villages complained that the teachers misappropriate money and rice sanctioned for MDM. It was also found that the teachers purchase dal, egg and other items for MDM without involving the SMC Members.
c. In every school, egg is served once in a week which contradicts the instruction of Govt. to provide egg for twice in a week i.e., Wednesday and Saturday .
d. The Children complained that they were not provided stomach full food and food not served regularly. In Lelingpadar, school children have not been served food for several months. Teachers absenteeism also makes irregular distribution of MDM for the children in all schools.
e. The venue used for preparation of food and food served is not hygienic. Cooking utensil are in bad shape.
f. Many schools like Bhejiguda, Podapadar, the team came across the tube-well but defunct. Water from nearby Nullah( small water stream) is used for preparation of food and drinking water. Many schools do not have drinking water facility. The villagers also shared that they had complained to BDO, Collector for repair of tube-well several times, but in vain.
g. It was found that Women SHGs had not been engaged anywhere for management of MDM in any school . In the name of SMC, the teachers have monopolized management of MDM.
h. Cook appointed to prepare food has not been paid honorarium for months together in Lelingpadar, Podapadar villages.
Management of ICDS programme.
Integrated Child Development Scheme, best known as Anganwadi programme is one of the biggest programme for women and children in the country. It mandates to provide protein and nutritious food to the children of 6 months to 6 years, pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girl and check malnutrition, infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country.
This scheme also provides a package of services including supplementary nutrition, pre-school education, immunization, health check-up, referral services and nutrition & health education through Anganwadi centres. Since April2011, the State Govt. has issued new guideline in form of decentralizing the distribution of food items to the beneficiaries engaging women SHGs for effective implementation of ICDS programme in the state. Under the presentation arrangement, the children of 6 months to 3 years , severely malnourished children, lactating and pregnant women are entitled to get Take Hole Ration (THR) from Anganwadi Centre and the Children within the age group of 3 to 6 years will be served breakfast and lunch in AWC in every month except Sunday . The Details of THR to be served different category of the beneficiaries as follows.
Category of beneficiaries
Amount per head (Rs.)
Quantity of THR per day (gram)
Quantity of THR per 15 days
6 months to 3 years
Lactating and pregnant women
( 3 to 6 years)
2 K.G. per month
The State Govt. has issued circular to all District Collectors to engage women groups for preparation of Chhatua (THR). In KBK region, older persons are entitled to get meal once in a day throughout the month in Anganwadi centre.
While visiting Thuamul Rampur Block, the Team Members examined about the procedure followed for distribution of Chhatua to the beneficiaries, management of AWC, food served to the children in AWC, quality and quantity of Chhatua served etc.
a.The Team came across gross irregularities in distribution of Chhatua Packets to children, pregnant and lactating women in all the villages. Women of Podapadar village showing loose packet complained that Anganwadi Worker of Dalguma Anganwadi Centre sells Chhatua at the rate Rs.10/-. Per half kg. The Anganwadi Worker gives one packet of Chhatua in two to three months.
b. Women of Bhataguda village said that Sarojini Nayak, Anganwadi Worker who stays 2 km away from the centre and hardly visits the centre collects Rs. 5 /- per Packet of Chhatua. In fact as per guideline Chhatua will be served to the beneficiaries free of cost at their doorstep.
c. The Team Members found mega scam in management and distribution of Chhatua when they visited Purunagumma village and interacted with Bishnu Priya Singh, Anganwadi Worker. Sabitri SHG of this village has been given responsibility to prepare Chhatua and distribute same to various Anganwadi centres in the Block. When the President and Secretary of Sabitri group were asked about their business and collection of different items, money received from Govt., they could not speak anything. Even they could not show their Bank Passbook. In fact, Anganwadi worker herself is the de facto president and Secretary of Sabitri SHG and managing the whole Chhatua business in the name of the group and engaging members of SHG as worker in packeting Chhatua. Anganawadi worker keeps Pass Book of SHG and manages their fund keeping the members in dark about money received and spent in Chhatua business. The whole objective of empowering women by engaging themselves in Chhatua business has been defeated. Women groups are seen stooge in the hand of Anganwadi worker in the Block.
This is not a single case. Similar kind of case was also found in Simelpadar village where the Secretary and members of Om Sibaya SHG who has been given license for preparation of Chhatua by the administration are working as daily wage worker in Chhatua godown managed by Anganwadi worker Manjulal Mohapatra. Sabni Majhi, Secretary of the group said that they are working as wage labourer in Chhatua factory run by Anganwadi worker and getting Rs. 40/- per day. Anganwadi Worker runs Chhatua business in the name of Om Sibaya Women SHG. Records of account, distribution of Chhatua, receipt of fund and expenditure is kept with Anganwadi worker. The information about any loss or profit, details of fund released by the administration to SHG is not known to Secretary of the SHG.
d. Angawadi cnetre of Purunagumma village is used for packeting and storage of Chhatua. It has become business hub. Pre-school education which should be imparted to the children in the centre as per ICDS guideline, does not happen here. The space is used by AWW for Chhatua business. Pre-school education is not imparted in any Angawadi centre of the Block. Anganwadi Workers are found concerned to serve food to the children and health check up.
e. Major scam was found in the weight of Chhatua distributed to beneficiaries. As per ICDS guideline, each child is entitled to get two packet of 4 kg Chhtua ( 2 kg per packet) per month. Similarly, lactating and pregnant women are entitled to get 2 packet of 5 kg Chhatua. But practically, women and children are not served that quantity. The quantity of Chhatua served to the beneficiaries by Sabitri SHG is as follows.
Quantity of Chhatua per each packet for lactating and pregnant women as per ICDS guideline
Written information on packet distributed by SHG
Actual weight done by the team on spot
Quantity of Chhatua per packet for malnourished children as per ICDS guideline
Written information on packet distributed by SHG
Actual weight done by the Team on the spot
Quantity of Chhatua per packet for children of 6 to 3 years as per ICDS guideline
Written information on packet distributed by SHG
Actual weight done by the Team on the spot
Quantity of Chhatua per each packet for Adult girls of 6 to 3 years as per ICDS guideline
Written information on packet distributed by SHG
Actual weight done by the Team on the spot
N.B.- In ICDS guideline, there is no such provision of Chhatua packet for adult girls. But the Team found such provision of Chhatua for the said group in this Block. When enquired, Anganwadi worker of Simelpadar said that CDPO has authorized Om Sibaya women SHG to prepare Chhatua for adultt girls which needs to be examined further.
f. when enquired about less quantity of Chhatua in the packet which is also written clearly in the paper inserted in the packet which is violation of guideline, the Anganwadi worker of Simelpadar and Purunagumma village on behalf of SHG said that they had received a letter from CDPO to make packet of less quantity ( 1.750 kg in stead of 2 kg Chhatua) after deducting waste, wastage and wire and tear.
g. As per ICDS guideline issued by Govt. of Odisha, Chhatua Packet for each section of Beneficiary will bear particular colour. For example, Chhatua packet meant for malnourished children will bear red colour and Packet for pregnant and lactating women sky yellow color. Packet meant for children sky blue color. But it was found that all packet are plain with no colour served by Dalguma Anganwadi worker.
g. It was also found that packets are not sealed but stapled. Information about details of item mixed for preparing Chhatua, Name of SHG with address and date of manufacturing is written in English not in Odia.
h. It was also reported by Secretary, Om Sibaya SHG and ANW of Simelpadar that they are procuring wheat from CDPO, Thuamulrampur at the cost of Rs.4.91 per kg for preparation of Chhatua. It is written in the ICDS guideline that Govt. will supply rice free of cost to SHGs for preparation of Chhatua.
After field visit, the Team tried to meet Collector, ADM and DPC, Kalahandi to appraise them about the situation. Despite hard effort, the Collector could not be contacted, though his mobile continuesly rang. ADM’s mobile is found switched off and he could not be contacted. DPC was contacted. He gave time 4 o’clock for meeting on 18th May. During that time, the team found his absence in the office. When he was contacted over mobile, he switched off in order to avoid to meet the Team. At last the Team members met ABDO, Bhawanipatna Block and S. I . of schools and appraised them about above mentioned school problems and sought his quick intervention.
a.Sri Apsar Khan, teacher of Lelingpadar Primary School should be transferred without delay. He has already spent one decade in that school making thousands of children illiterate remaining absent for long period in that school. He is the person who is responsible for destroying generation to generation making our children academically crippled. Salary paid to him should be recovered. Enquiry into alleged misappropriation of fund and low quality of work done in construction of school building should be done as quick as possible and criminal proceedings should be initiated against him.
b. As per provision of Right to Education Act and Odisha RTE Rules, School infrastructure like building , required classroom, boundary wall, drinking water, cooking shed, latrine should be ensured to all the Primary schools at the earliest.
c. Teachers’ absenteeism in the schools for months together has posed big threat to improvement of Primary education in rural areas. Illiteracy can not be checked unless teachers’ presence in the school is ensured. The teachers remaining absent in the school and neglecting in imparting teaching to the children should be penalized and disciplinary action can be initiated against them. There should be system of performance appraisal of the teachers through children’s performance in the school examination.
d. The State Govt. should organize training programme for SMC members to sensitize them about their roles and responsibilities in the management school and MDM. Due to ignorance of the SMC members, the teachers are found mismanaging and misappropriating funds for the schools and MDM which needs to be checked through empowerment of SMC.
e. It is found that the school teachers are having nexus with BRC, CRC, S.I. of schools, who are in charge of monitoring of the schools. To check it, there should be independent monitoring team of Civil Society Organisations, advocates, retired Govt. officials, eminent citizens, retired Professors at the district. This independent team of Govt. machinery should monitor the schools and report to the authority for quick action.
f. Defunct Tube-well in all schools should be repaired on war-footing way and all schools should have provision of drinking water at the earliest.
g. Management of MDM should be handed over to the SMC, not to the teachers. The teachers should be warned not to keep money and rice of MDM scheme with them. Whenever possible, women SHGs should be handed over management of MDM.
h. In view of proxy business undertaken by Anganwadi workers in the name of women SHG, the objective of the Govt. to engage women in preparation of Chhatua has been defeated. Food business has again gone to same vested groups who had been misappropriating and black-marketing of ICDS food since years together. So the Govt. should take steps to organize capacity building training programme for Women SHGs. So that they will be able to manage their business independently and gain profit and contribute to their family income.
i.Less quantity in Chhatua Packet needs inquiry and action should be taken against the persons responsible for it. The beneficiaries should be provided prescribed quantity of Chhatua as per ICDS guideline. If such discrepancy continues, it will no doubt bring disaster in food security of women and children leading to rise of malnutrition and infant mortality rate in the tribal pockets.
j. Information about packaging and name of the organization and its address should be written in Odia so that the rural people can understand it and react in case of any discrepancy. Providing and disseminating information in English in Chhatua Packet for the poor and illiterate masses is no doubt a colonial conspiracy to befool and cheat the people.
k. Anganwadi workers of Simelpadar and Purunagumma should be warned to refrain from proxy business. They should work to develop capacity of SHGs so that they can manage Chhatua business independently. They should not run the business making SHG women as their daily wage labourer in their business hub.
l. It is alleged that CDPO of Thuamul Rampur is selling wheat to the groups who are in charge of producing supplementary nutrition powder. An enquiry should be ordered to find out fact and action should be taken accordingly.