No irregularities by women tailors in uniforms’ supply: Jharkhand govt

The Jharkhand government has said there were no irregularities in the supply of uniforms to government schools by women tailors in Godda district. This could pave the way for the payment of the Rs 1.5-crore dues that the nearly 1,500 women are yet to receive for having supplied uniforms in 2019-20.

The tailors — all women from the villages of Godda district — had earned more than Rs 1.8 crore in wages, in all, between 2018 and 2020 by supplying uniforms to government schools. This had prompted Niti Aayog to hail the “Godda Model” in December 2020 as one that can be replicated by other aspirational districts in the state. But in 2020, an inquiry was initiated against the women of the ‘Godda Model’ on allegations of irregularities made by local MLA Pradeep Yadav.

In his complaint in September 2019, the Congress MLA alleged that money meant for school students was siphoned away.

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As a result, payment to the women were stopped even though they had an MoU with the district administration to provide uniforms for five years. The Indian Express has previously reported on the plight of these women, several of whom have struggled to repay EMIs and private school fees of their children after the payments stopped.

During the ongoing Budget Session of the state Assembly, School Education and Literacy Minister Jagarnath Mahto said that no irregularities were found in the supply of uniforms and that the orders were fulfilled in time. The statement came in response to queries raised in the Assembly by MLA Yadav on Tuesday.

Women at the Itkiya ITI. (Express Photo)

Several inquiries commissioned by district authorities after Yadav’s 2019 complaint had found no irregularities, but Rs 65 lakh in wages and Rs 75 lakh in vendor payments were not paid to the women.

MLA Dipika Singh on Wednesday had asked state Rural Development Minister Alamgir Alam when the women would be paid their dues. Alam, in his response, said: “The payment of the dues pertains to the Education Department Godda.”

This put the onus of the payment on the district administration.

The process of imparting tailoring skills to women from some villages in Godda was initiated after Adani Power set up its plant in the district in 2018. The company, as part of its CSR programme, trained women from surrounding villages in tailoring and set up 150 electric sewing machines at Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Itkiya in Godda. The women set up their base at the ITI to fulfil orders for uniforms.

The women got the orders as part of the scheme to give free uniforms to government schools under the Samagra Siksha Abhiyaan.

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