While kids in the city are struggling to get basic amenities in their respective anganawadis, the Kochi Corporation has been sitting on a whopping Rs 1.5 crore meant exclusively for developing such local care homes. Sources told ‘City Express’ that the Corporation has not spent a single paise from the Rs 1.5-crore plan fund allocation for anganawadis in the city. The local body chose to keep mum on it for the past two years until it was woken up from its slumber by the state government recently.
The Corporation has come under fire in this regard for its financial mismanagement and inefficiency. A legislature committee of the state government, the ‘Local Funds Account Committee’ chaired by Varkala Kahar MLA, has asked the Corporation for an explanation during its sitting on Wednesday. If the explanation is not satisfactory, there are chances of the committee penalising the Corporation for mismanagement.
The majority of anganawadis in the city are functioning in rented buildings without proper basic facilities such as toilets and many are not maintained well. The usual excuse given by the local body for failing to execute the required work was financial crunch. But the revelation on the project proves that it was not shortage of funds but mere apathy and inefficient management.
The amount was sanctioned for 2010 to 11 and 2011 to 12 under the plan fund. It was meant for enhancing the infrastructure facilities, food, nutritional and health aspects in anganawadis. The project was channelised through the CDPO and was to be monitored by the ICDA.
The officials concerned in the Corporation said that the money was left untouched as there was no land available in the city for the price mentioned by the state government. The Corporation officials are planning to reply to the legislative committee that non-availability of land within the price stipulated by the government was the main hurdle faced by them for utilisation of the fund.
“The government must allow us to purchase land at the market rate. Else, land purchase for anganawadis will not be possible,” said an official under condition of anonymity.
Surprisingly, both Development Committee chairman T J Vinod Kumar and Welfare Committee chairperson Essy Joseph said they were not aware of the particulars of such a file. Mayor Tony Chammany also said that he has to check the file before commenting, but assured that he would look into the matter.