The Centre's Supplementary Nutrition Food Programme in UP, instead of feeding malnourished children, is enmeshed in a tussle among private companies to grab supply contracts from the SP government, which plans to procure nutritious food worth Rs. 9,000 crore within three years.
In clear violation of the Supreme Court order of 2004 saying that only self-help groups, mahila mandals and village communities be given contracts for the supply of nutrition, the state government is all set to hand over the supply tender to a private company - Great Value Food run by liquor baron Gurdeep Singh Chadha alias Ponty Chadha.
Child development and nutrition department sources said the technical bid for the supply has been finalised in favour of Chadha's firm and the bid would be finalised by November 9.
Not to be left behind, some firms supplying nutritious food in other states have challenged the tender in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court.
Gupta's counsel Mohammad Altaf Mansoor said the matter would be taken up for hearing in the high court on November 19.
Sources alleged that Chadha's firm had the tender tailored by bureaucrats and politicians in such a manner that all competitors were disqualified.
Chadha's firm had bagged the tender in 2009 too during the BSP regime.
In a letter to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Sharda Pratap Shukla, the Samajwadi Party MLA from Sarojni Nagar assembly constituency in Lucknow, has demanded either a CBI or an Economic Offences Wing (EOW) probe into the nutrition procurement procedure.
Shukla said, "I wrote the letter to the chief minister to check the nutrition scam, else the government exchequer would suffer a loss of Rs 10,000 crore. It might be bigger than the national rural health mission (NRHM) scam."
On his part, director, child development and nutrition, Sambhu Nath said: "The terms and conditions of the 2012 tender are not different from the tenders floated by the state government for supply of nutrition in 2005, 2007 and 2009."