From Our Special Correspondent
Silchar, Feb 23: Here is the story of an Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centre number 88 located in the premises of 1618 Baikam Punjee LP School under Katigorah constituency of Cachar, 35 km from here, has been functioning for the last 6 years without any student. The lone teacher meant for 25 students, boys and girls below the age of 6, is virtually on French leave, but drawing her salary regularly in connivance with the higher ups of the ICDS centre at Katigorah and Silchar.
ICDS is a programme which provides food, pre-school education, and primary healthcare to children below 6 years of age and their mothers. The scheme was launched in 1975 but Morarji Desai Government discontinued it in 1978. It was from Tenth Five Year Plan that the Central Government started focusing more on its objective and relaunched it. Sadly enough, as the teacher remains absent and the maging committee maintains stoic silence on the development, only 6 students who come to the centre are accommodated at the Baikam Punjee LP School at the behest of the headmaster Bamali Pasyad.
Pasyad said over telephone, “I cannot but extend all help and cooperation to the parents of these innocent and helpless children who are so enthusiastic to study and learn. They cannot be held at ransom for the negligence and indifference of the authorities of the ICDS.” Besides imparting education to them, the headmaster also takes care to give them the share of midday meals also notwithstanding the additiol burden on him. Quite surprisingly, on roll of the ICDS centre are 24 students.
According to a senior citizen of the Punjee, it is their apprehension that the funds meant for running the centre and providing midday meals are being siphoned off by the vested circles inside. Moreover, they are also not aware of the existence of any maging committee and its president. Another puzzling thing is that no signboard indicating the location and existence of the ICDS centre is hung up outside the building. Neither the maging committee nor the teacher identified as Sheuli Malakar maintains any contact with parents and guardians.
If such things continue to happen, the Punjee residents think it is better to close down the centre and this will save the public money from being drained out. Another glaring anomaly is the mismatch between the number of children enrolled on the register of ICDS centre with that of their actual existence in the Punjee and its surrounding areas. The guardians share the information of only 15 children in the areas. The enraged villagers draw the attention of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar and insist on high level investigation into the murky affairs of the centre and the utilization of fund in particular.