SIET to be restored to carry out EDUSAT programme in Secondary Schools of Odisha- A Civil Society Call to strengthen Govt. Institution
On 27.6.17, in a high-level meeting held under chairmanship of Development Commissioner, Govt. of Odisha, it has been decided to cover Edusat ( Education through Satellite) programme in all secondary schools of the state. The programme will be transmitted through Doordarshan.
But it deserves to be mentioned here that this programme was first started by the Central Govt. in six states including Odisha having availability of INSAT. The Central Govt. was funding in toto for this programme. In 1982, SIET ( State Institute of Education and Technology ) , as an autonomous body was formed by State Govt. to carry out ICT @ school programme in the schools. Edusat is one of the components of the programme. It was functioning under School and Mass Education Department. SIET has trained and experienced 87 technical and non-technical staff who were on deputation from the Govt. and specially recruited for the said programme. with cent percent financial support from Central Govt., SIET has developed its own studio with costly camera, instrument, infrastructure and doing fantastic work in developing audio-visual materials for the students which was being telecast by Doordarshan. All the schools were provided colour TV and Radio-cum-Cassette player to watch the programme.
When the programme was going on successfully, the State Govt. closed down SIET by brining out notification dated 29.4.2013 citing 3 reasons like cessation of fund by Central Govt. for ICT @ school programme, disturbance created by employees and unwillingness of Staff to generate revenue to run SIET in a self-sustained mode, loss of viability of SIET and subsequently retrenched all staff. Perturbed over the said notification, RTI Application was filed to the CPIO, Ministry of Human Resource Development , Govt. of India seeking copy of the decision taken at Central Govt. level to close down SIET. The CPIO responded that there was no such decision taken to close down SIET. But on RTI query, the State Govt. in Dept. of School and Mass Education Dept. provided copy of a false and fabricated letter of Central Govt. to close down SIET. On query about other two reasons, the Dept. could not provide any satisfactory response.
Then, the retrenched employees armed with RTI response challenged arbitrary decision of State Govt. to close down SIET in High Court. While hearing the case ( W.P.C. No. 11195/2013) , the hon’ble High Court directed the State Govt. to produce the copy of the letter in which the Central Govt. had asked State Govt. to close down SIET. The Secretary, Dept. of S & ME could not produce the letter but begged unconditional apology for the mistake in May 2017.
From the RTI expose, it was found that the Central Govt. has released Rs. 40 crore to Govt. of Odisha in the year- 2012-13 to continue the programme. Now the question comes when there was availability of fund, why the Govt. of Odisha decided to close down SIET. It was masterminded by Bijay Patnaik, then Chief Secretary, Odisha along with a coterie of bureaucrats to swindle this fund for their vested interest. Accordingly, a fraud company named OKCL ( Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited ) as Govt. Company ( it is not Govt. company later on it was exposed under RTI) was created over night with Gazette Notification and without tender an amount of Rs. 200 crore was transferred to OKCL. It has come to our notice that OKCL is managed by kith and kin of Odisha bureaucrats. A PIL case has been filed and pending in Odisha High Court challenging formation of OKCL and fund illegally diverted to OKCL without tender.
So, we demand that SIET which is an autonomous body with trained personnel should be restored and all ICT @ school programme including Edusat to be handed over to SIET with reappointment of employees retrenched by the State Govt.