Chennai: The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has alleged swindling of money meant for textbook writing and other works at State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) by its director and four others and conducted raids at several places on Wednesday.
The DVAC officials said they have seized “several documents” during the raids which have lasted for several hours.
It has also registered the case under various sections including 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and 13 (2) r/w 13 (1) (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against SCERT director G.Arivoli, R.Latha director of Non Formal Education (formerly joint director (admin), SCERT), Sangeetha, assistant professor, SCERT and Chitra, graduate teacher from Government High School and M.Amalan Jerome, secondary grade teacher from Panchayat Union Primary School in Salem district.
Arraigning some of the officials and teachers with high integrity as accused in this case has raised many eyebrows among the school education circles. They alleged that DVAC has simply booked the case based on the complaint of some aggrieved persons.
When contacted, SCERT director G.Arivoli refused to comment. However, DVAC said it has received credible information has been received against the accused while they were working in SCERT in various capacities and indulged in corrupt activities and swindled government money sanctioned for the purpose of implementing various projects by the organisation.
‘Director cleared amounts on pretext of conducting conferences’
Under the project Universalising Tamil (Ulagamellam Tamil), the Tamil Nadu government has launched two magazines in the names of Kanavu Asiriyar (Dream Teacher) for the benefit of teachers and Then Chittu (Sun Bird) for students studying in 31,322 government panchayat union primary and middle schools.
“With the direction of SCERT director, without executing any kind of work towards publication of magazines and the sum of Rs 17 lakh was given to Chitra, a graduate teacher from Government High School from Kancheepuram district. In this manner several lakhs of amounts were swindled without any appropriate vouchers, using bogus vouchers as genuine and by adopting other fraudulent methods,” DVAC alleged in its FIR.
But, teachers said school education department hired a team of experts and artists for more than six months and they were paid. “We have prepared three issues of these magazines and the project was postponed citing technical issues in printing. But, the change of helm in the school education department has put the project in the back burner,” the teachers involved in the project told this paper.
SCERT has been entrusted with the task of preparing textbooks for school students. For textbook writing, training and other connected activities an amount of Rs 20 crore was sanctioned by the state government.
“The director called in experts, teachers from different institutions and schools and they have been provided with free boarding and lodging, conveyance and deputation allowance. Under the garb of the said expenses, through his agents, he siphoned off several lakh rupees by quoting various expenditures like boarding, lodging conveyance excessively. No appropriate bills, vouchers or relevant documents are available and some bogus documents were prepared in support of their claim. Norms were not properly followed,” it alleged.
Amounts were withdrawn through various self cheques in the names of his staff. “The director also siphoned off amounts under the pretext of conducting conferences of experts and teachers to frame the curriculum by means of accepting bogus bills/vouchers and also not having appropriate bills/vouchers/documents,” it said. “All the accused jointly conspired together and mutually agreed to assist each other for obtaining wrongful gain for themselves and wrongful loss to the government,” the DVAC added.
It also alleged that EDUSAT was purchased in the year 2016-17 by SCERT for educational activities for the cost above Rs 2 crore. But it has not been serving the purpose and in many aspects it is dysfunctional. Also, it was purchased at a high price and caused loss to government....