Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cash-starved BBMP may deprive 34,000 kids, elderly of meals

The Times of India: Over 20,000 children and more than 14,000 senior citizens face the possibility of being deprived of midday meals being served in BBMP schools from January 5.

For, Iskcon's Akshaya Patra has threatened to stop serving the midday meals if the cash-strapped BBMP fails to clear its pending bills running up to Rs 1.96 crore. The uncleared bills have piled up over the last six months.

Akshaya Patra serves midday meals at BBMP's 115 schools and over 40 units catering to senior citizens. The threat to stop the service has been mentioned in an Iskcon notice to BBMP.

M Nagaraj, corporator from Nandini Layout, brought the issue to the notice of the BBMP commissioner during the recent council meeting.

"Iskcon is a charitable trust working on laudable activities like midday meals. If the government agencies like BBMP do not pay them at the right time, how will Iskcon continue to do good work? Iskcon representatives met me and said they might not be able to continue the service from January 5 if BBMP failed to clear the pending payment," Nagaraj told TOI.

When the issue was bought to the notice of commissioner Siddaiah, he immediately asked the officials to clear the bills.

"Due to lack of revenue mobilization in previous months, the salaries to be paid to nurses, doctors and link workers are pending. These are workers who are taking care of outsourced work of BBMP. They will be paid in one or two days. The computer operators were not paid for the past two months and their salaries were released today. Iskcon's pending payment will be taken care of. I have already instructed my officials," Siddaiah said.

When contacted, BBMP chief accounts officer Ramachandra Gowda admitted that the Akshaya Patra bills were not yet paid. "We are waiting for the bills to be prepared by the joint commissioner of social welfare wing. As soon as I get the bills, I will clear it," he said.

Iskcon chief Chanchalapathi Dasa was unavailable for comment. An Akshaya Patra spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the pending bills issue. "We would not like to comment on this," he said.

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