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Fact-finding Report on Implementation of Food Security Programme in Kalahandi district, Odisha

Organised  by : Right to Food Campaign,
Dates of Visit:   17th  and 18th May’2012
Team Members:
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

Introduction
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 , illiteracy, extreme hunger and malnutrition. Almost all anti- 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 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 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  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   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   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.
Implementation of RTE Act.
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   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, 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 , 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
Nutrition
Amount per head (Rs.)
Quantity of THR per day (gram)
Quantity of THR per 15 days
6 months to 3 years
13.34
4
160
2 K.G.
Lactating and pregnant women
17.79
5
200
2.5K.G.
Severely malnourished
20
6
240
3 K.G.
Severely malnourished
( 3 to 6 years)
6.67
2
80
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
2.5 kg
2.125  kg
2 kg
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
3 kg
2.550 kg
2.400 kg
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
2 kg
1.750 kg
1.5 kg
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
2.5 kg
2.125 kg
1.750 kg
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.
Recommendation
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 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.

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