Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan sounded cautious on Monday while assuring action only if any illegality was found in giving contracts under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, upped the ante on the issue by filing a complaint with the state anti-corruption bureau.
The chief minister was speaking in the context of a report filed on Friday by the office of commissioners to the Supreme Court which said six private contractors who won deals were not eligible to bid in accordance with an apex court’s order.
HT has found many of the contractors seem to be politically influential.
Chavan said the report, if it proven true, would be a matter of serious concern. “We will verify whether nutrition [the quality of food] was compromised.”
He, however, refused to commit on any concrete measure, saying he had not yet received a copy of the report.
“The news reports are based on information leaked to the media,” he told reporters, but neither specified the source of the leak, nor explained why government officials and lawyers failed in getting the report to him even after four days of its submission to the Supreme Court.
Chavan justified giving contracts to women’s groups, which he said was done in a legal manner.
Minister for women and child welfare Varsha Gaikwad on Sunday had maintained the state had awarded tenders based on the central government’s guidelines of 2009. The minister briefed Chavan on the issue on Monday.
He, however, said the government would continue to terminate permission to children’s welfare homes that are not providing proper facilities such as shelter and food.
He said that the permission to 75 such homes was cancelled in the last week, and before that, 92 homes were asked to shut.
Among the three contractors, Swapnil Agro owner Satish Munde is known to be close to senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who, however, has denied any dealings with him. Indo-Allied Protein Foods is owned by Rajan Shankar Jadhav and Vivek Shankar Jadhav.
The latter is well-known for connections across political parties, and is also a director in a prominent construction firm Shivalik Ventures in Mumbai.