The Maharashtra chapter of the central government's flagship Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has criticised the state government for lack of transparency in the contract allocation process, saying it was done to favour the same vested parties.
The principal adviser of the office of commissioner Biraj Patnaik, who drafted the reports, expressed the need for the institution of a Special Investigation Team to investigate the matter.
Hindustan Times, on Saturday, reported how the same report pointed out that the quality of food premixes supplied by contractors in Maharashtra under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) scheme was substandard and below prescribed norms.
The second report from the office of the commissioners to the Supreme Court submitted on November 29 points out that it extended contracts for 3 years despite being challenged legally, and the initial agreement restricted the extensions to 12 months.
It also entered into open-ended contracts worth Rs18 crore for the adolescent girl nutrition - Sabala programme - without any tendering or following the selection process, the report claims.
It was given to the three firms that have been named under the ICDS programme for bungling by floating front organisations of women that were actually controlled by their family members, the report points out. This, it adds, was done to get around an apex court order that stipulates only self-help groups, mahila mandals (women's committees) and village communities can be awarded contracts.
The report says the government resolution for initiation of the Sabala spelled out giving contracts to the same contractors. It said, ' Presently, the supply of Take Home Ration is being done under ICDS and through three women societies. In the Sabala scheme currently supply should be made through the same three women societies, so that supply is started immediately."
The report in a negative remark said 'It is apparent that the contracts are extended over periods of time and across different schemes to the same vested parties'.