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A 250-crore text book scandal surfaces in U P before assembly election

Sanjay Bhatnagar

Sanjay BhatnagarBy Sanjay Bhatnagar

Published on 7 Oct 2016 10:41 AM GMT

A 250-crore text book scandal surfaces in U P before assembly election
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Text Book Scandal
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-- by Sudhanshu Saxena

Lucknow: In what could be nothing short of a scam, the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to publish and distribute over 13 crores of text books to the students from class one to eight even as the current 2016-17 session has reached almost half way.

The erroneous selection of paper supplier, ostensibly owing to some vested interests, left several lakhs of students enrolled in 1.35 lakh primary and higher primary schools without text books, a mockery of the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the state which claims to distribute free books to them.

The documents available with newstrack.com reveal that the contract of the paper supply was deliberately given to the company which could not discharge the contract on time leaving kids in a lurch and that too at the time when half yearly exams are round the corner.

  • A total of 13.21 crore books with 110 titles were to be distributed latest by July.
  • The cost of the project is more than Rs 250 crore.
  • The tender for the supply of paper was revised twice apparently to match the specifications of a particular company.
  • In 2015-16, the printing cost was Rs 1.04 which was raised to Rs 1.38 in 2016-17.
  • The tender was first invited in February but was revised twice before finally invited on April 17, 2016, according to Amrendra Singh , the officer in charge of text books of SSA.
  • The company shortlisted had been low performer in production of water mark paper required for the text books.
  • The revised condition for the mill to have daily production of 200 MT of water mark paper enabled a company to participate which was in no position to supply paper for the books to be published.

  • Several firms were rejected to accommodate Hindustan Paper Corporation, the paper supplier company.

Publishers reveal

  • A publisher , on the condition of anonymity, revealed that they had no paper to publish.
  • Alleged that in order to award contract to a particular company, the tender conditions were changed.
  • They were asked to give printed books within 75 days but in the case of non-receipt of paper, the books could not be published by even September.
  • Now, the publishers face the black listing while the defaulter is the paper supplier company.
  • Some influential person from Ghaziabad negotiated on behalf of the company and allegedly some big money exchanged hands.

What the officials say?

  • The state project director of SSA G S Priyadarshi passed on the buck on Text Books officer Amrendra Singh.
  • He says the tender process was executed by Amrendra Singh and the financial controller of SSA was also the member of tender committee.
  • The SSA head ,however, admitted that as per the rules, books should have reached the children.

Director Basic Education Dinesh Babu Sharma says

  • ... yes, the Hindustan Paper Corporation could not supply paper during August.
  • Only 60 per cent of the books have so far been printed.
  • Twenty two publishers were engaged in printing.
  • The process is delayed while the children are suffering.

Secretary Basic Education, UP government Ajay Kumar Singh admitted that there was inordinate delay in distribution of books.

  • He had no satisfactory reply as how would they compensate the loss of poor children.
  • He seeks to pass on the mantle on the Director, Basic Education saying it has been his responsibility.
  • Though admits that it was a default on the part of the paper supplier company.
  • Will evolve a mechanism to ensure timely distribution of text books next year.

Meanwhile, a cursory survey by NewsTrack team in various districts including the state capital of Lucknow , the children are facing lot of problems and the authorities have been belying the claims of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

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Sanjay Bhatnagar

Sanjay Bhatnagar

Writer is a bi-lingual journalist with experience of about three decades in print media before switching over to digital media. He is a political commentator and covered many political events in India and abroad.

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