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Tom Flynn, CFI Executive Director

Tom Flynn, Executive Director (Photo credit: Marty Stone)

Ex-staff spill the beans on Christy’s cheat code

Nandini Chandrashekar, Bangalore, Apr 5, 2012, DHNS :

Christy Friedgram Industries (CFI), the company under investigation by the Lokayukta police for fraudulent practices in the supply of supplementary nutritional food to anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, seemed to have an elaborate system of deception in place.

Former employees of CFI approached Deccan Herald and shed light on some of the bad practices adopted by the company, a downright violation of the norms.

The officials of the Department of Women and Child Development have consistently said that CFI was not hired as a contractor for food supply in violation of Supreme Court directives, but they were merely into capacity building.

The capacity building meant the setting up of 137 Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSPTCs) at the taluk level all over the State.

These centres are supposed to produce the nutritional food and package them according to requirements for supply to anganwadis, to be fed to children, pregnant and lactating mothers.

A former employee of CFI – who was active in the recruitment of women for the MSPTCs – says they were instructed not to hire women who were educated.

The logic behind this was simple. In accordance with the directives, the State – in its agreement with CFI – had stated that the company apart from getting paid for the raw material it supplied to the MSPTC, would be paid a profit of Rs 1 per kg of food supplied. The rest of the profit that was accrued had to be shared among the members of the MSPTC.

Hiring uneducated women and semi-literate women ensured that no one understood the account details, the indents of supply or any of the accounting they would have to look into; what the turnover of their unit was, which ran into several crores of rupees annually. All the profits were going directly to CFI and the employees of the MSPTC were blissfully unaware.

“Each of the MSPTCs had a staff member of CFI overlooking all financial details and transactions. The President, Vice President and Treasurer were women who had no clue what was happening. They signed on documents when they were told to and some of the women gave their thumb impressions.

Their job merely was to load and unload the food material, mix the different items and package the food. They were paid a salary for this job. Beyond this, they did not know anything,” the former employee said. Members who usually number around 22 in these centres have absolutely no medical facilities and even miss out on incentives. If they miss one day of work, their salary is deducted, the ex-staffer added.

Not only were the women uneducated, there were also instructions to the employees that the location of the MSPTCs had to be in a remote area. “Our superiors insisted that the place we choose has to be as far as possible and located in villages rather than in taluk headquarters.

Only later did we understand that this was so, so that the place is not accessible easily for inspections by government officials,” the ex-employee said.

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