Telangana and AP govt to argue over school uniformsSeptember 11, 2014
Supply of uniforms to school children under the Rajiv Vidya Mission (RVM) for the year 2014-15 has kicked up a row between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments over hurriedly placed procurement orders worth Rs 170 crore just before bifurcation of the state and subsequent elections.
The Telangana government is learnt to have started an inquiry into orders placed with the AP State Handloom Weavers' Cooperative Society (APCO) and is reported to have zeroed in on the role of an officer in the school education department in the deal. The state government even kept the orders issued by the state project director of RVM in abeyance for nearly two months and issued fresh orders for procurement from Telangana weavers a couple of weeks ago.
RVM state project director in the united AP, V Usha Rani, wrote to all school management committees (SMCs) 'Rc No 2086/RVM(SSA) C4/2014'on April 29, 2014 to procure uniform cloth from APCO for 2014-15. The timing of the order has now resulted in the deal coming under government scanner.
"When the Centre announced well in advance that the Appointed Day for Telangana was June 2, what was the hurry in calling indents from SMCs to APCO in April? Secondly, schools had holidays from April 24 and the circular was issued on April 29. How can SMCs send in their indents on the requirement of the cloth during holidays? The exact requirement of the cloth for schoolchildren would be known only after the admission process is over. But on the orders of the project director, some districts sent their tentative indents to APCO in the month of May itself," sources in the school education department said.
The sources said no objections were raised after the department started taking orders as everybody was busy with Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. They also said that orders for uniforms for 2013-14 were placed in November 2013 and the materials were supplied in January and February 2014. The uniforms were given to children only in March and April of 2014. Typically, orders for the next academic year's uniforms are placed the year before.
The erstwhile state government issued a GO?MS No. 24 by Industries and Commerce (Textile)?on March 22, 2013, directing government departments including school education to procure cloth from APCO. The decision was taken mainly to provide livelihood and security to nearly four lakh weavers in united AP.
Accordingly, APCO received orders amounting to Rs 176 crore to supply uniform cloth to schools in 2013 (for 2013-14) and is expected to supply uniforms worth another Rs 170 crore for the current year, 2014-15.
Some Telangana leaders brought to the notice of the state government that weaver societies in a couple of districts like Kadapa have been supplying more material and some have even been supplying powerloom material in the guise of handloom. As per the Centre's guidelines, only handloom material of a certain quality should be supplied under RVM.
When contacted, V Usha Rani (now AP commissioner of school education) said a circular was issued to SMCs for procurement of uniforms in April as there were delays in the supply of uniforms earlier. "Since RVM is a central scheme, it has nothing to do with bifurcation and even weavers from Telangana benefit as they also supply cloth through APCO. Quality of cloth supplied by APCO is checked by authorities," Usha Rani told TOI. She clarified that she was not aware of the Telagana government's move or orders on the issue. Telangana school education commissioner M Jagadishwar said he is not aware of the issue.
Under Rajiv Vidya Mission (RVM), the Centre provides funds to states every year for providing school uniforms to children between 6 and 14 years of age and studying in classes I to VIII in all government schools. The programme was initiated five years ago under Right to Education Act, 2009, and in unified AP, the project benefited nearly 55 lakh children.
The Telangana government is learnt to have started an inquiry into orders placed with the AP State Handloom Weavers' Cooperative Society (APCO) and is reported to have zeroed in on the role of an officer in the school education department in the deal