गुरुवार, 13 जुलाई 2017

SIET to be restored to carry out EDUSAT programme in Odisha

SIET to be restored to  carry out EDUSAT programme  in Secondary Schools of Odisha- A Civil Society Call to strengthen Govt. Institution

Dear friends

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.

Pradip Pradhan

Date- 12.7.17 

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