After being accused by the Congress of deliberately wasting the House time to evade embarrassing question on the alleged multi-crore pulse scam being probed by state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau, Himachal government today admitted in the state assembly to deliberate alterations in tender for purchase of the essential commodities and suspension of two officials of food, civil supply and consumer department.
When Congress MLA Mukesh Agnihotri accused industry minister Krishan Kapoor of deliberately wasting time of the House by giving irrelevant reply to a supplementary during the Question Hour, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal intervened to refute the charge saying the government did not want to hide anything and was ready for a short discussion on the issue if the opposition gave a notice for it.
The chief minister's intervention came after Agnihotri dismissed the defence parliamentary affairs minister Ravinder Singh Ravi tried to mount for the industry minister.
Food minister Ramesh Dhawal, in an eight-page written reply, however admitted that tender conditions were deliberately altered to make purchase of pulses uncompetitive and the government has suspended two officials even as the probe continues after a case was registered under Section 15 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
He said the state civil supply corporation purchased on an average 51,000 tonnes of pulses worth about Rs 180 crore every year for distribution to ration card holders through public distribution system (PDS). A subsidy of Rs 10 a kilo was given to the PDS consumers.
The minister revealed that after the deletion of a certain tender condition on January 10 this year, the prices of over-priced pulses had come down by 22 to 39 per cent.
The assembly speaker wound up the Question Hour offering to the opposition Congress members a 30-minute discussion on the issue.