The Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau on Thursday wrote to the principal secretary of the women and child development ministry, seeking his remarks on the allegations against Pankaja Munde, the women and child development minister.
On Wednesday, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant filed a complaint with the ACB, alleging that Munde’s ministry had, on her orders, flouted rules and favoured certain companies when awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore in February.
Praveen Dixit, director general of police, ACB, said, “An opinion has been sought [from the principal secretary], following which the course of action will be decided,” he said.
The dubious contracts, awarded through 24 government resolutions (GR) were for the purchase of food items and other materials, ostensibly for children in rural and tribal areas. Munde has denied the allegations, saying they were part of a conspiracy to malign her image.
Among these was a contract to supply chikki, which was allegedly awarded without due process to one Suryakanta Mahila Audyogik Sanstha (SMAS) for a whopping Rs 113 crore. The contract quotes a price of Rs 285 per kg of chikki, even though other groups had allegedly quoted Rs 127 per kg – less than half that amount.
Significantly, the department responsible awarding contracts had opposed giving the chikki contract to SMAS in April 2013. Radhika Rastogi, then industries development commissioner, had categorically said the contract should be awarded only by inviting tenders.
Two other GRs among the 24 were for the purchase of the same items — electronic physio-growth monitors (EPGM), which are used to track the health of malnourished children. Two contractors, Sai Hightech Products and Nitiraj Engineers, both from north Maharashtra, were awarded the contract – for Rs 6 crore and Rs 18 crore, respectively.
In another case, water purifiers were bought for Rs 5,220 per unit despite the fact that the department had fixed the maximum price at Rs 4,500 per unit. The supplier, Everest Industries of Aurangabad, does not even have its own manufacturing unit and was allowed to outsource production.