HomePoliticsAnother Central plan, another Bengal dispute

Another Central plan, another Bengal dispute

The West Bengal government has come under fire for allegedly over-reporting midday meals worth “more than Rs 100 crore” in response to a report from the federal government. The Opposition has accused the Mamata Banerjee-led administration of corruption, and the state administration has dismissed the report as “one-sided” and claimed that the state’s viewpoints were not taken into account.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY), two other Central programs, are currently the subject of a dispute between the Union government and the state. The West Bengal administration has not received funding from the BJP-led Centre because of alleged corruption in these programs. The TMC refuted the allegations and claimed that the BJP’s “vendetta politics” were to blame for the Center’s response.

The Joint Review Mission (JRM), which was established in January by the Ministry of Education to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds for midday meals, issued a denial on Wednesday.

The local administration “over-reported” 16 crore midday meals valued at “more than Rs 100 crore” between April and September of last year, according to the Centre-state joint review of the PM Poshan scheme’s execution. The JRM further questioned the claimed misallocation of foodgrains, the purported cooking of rice, dal, and vegetables in amounts up to 70% lower than “prescribed quantities,” and the alleged use of expired condiment packets. It also questioned the alleged diversion of the scheme’s finances to provide compensation to fire victims.

State Education Minister Bratya Basu responded to the claims on Wednesday, saying, “Our main answer is that the JRM has filed this report without the signature of the State Cooked Midday Meal Scheme Project Director, who was the state government representation in it. If the report isn’t even shared with him for his view, what exactly is the “Joint” in the JRM? It is obvious that the state’s viewpoints have not been taken into consideration. We have already written the JRM chairman a letter of protest, but we have not yet received a reply.

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