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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

Favoured glass suppliers make Punjab lose Rs. 2.5 cr

Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 16, 2014
First Published: 10:20 IST(16/7/2014) | Last Updated: 10:29 IST(16/7/2014)

The glassware that the Punjab health department could have purchased for its laboratories and clinics for Rs. 2.5 crore has been procured for about Rs. 5 crore.

This so when even the two favoured suppliers had failed to fulfil the condition (certification for chemical composition of the glassware) on which cheaper offers were turned down. The supply order was placed in the last 45 days of the previous financial year (2013-14).

A father-son team representing firms Sunrise Enterprise as “authorised dealer” and N&S Enterprise as “servicing dealer” received 4 bulk-purchase orders worth more than Rs. 5.08 crore. The shipments to warehouses at Kharar, Bathinda and Verka near Amritsar cost Rs. 2.33 crore for the slides alone. There were 3.52-lakh boxes of 50 slides each.

A 50-ml burette procured a year ago for Rs. 405 now cost Rs. 1,606. The pipette price moved from Rs. 120 to Rs. 442. The distillation apparatus (yet to be procured) has listed price ranging from Rs. 1.31 lakh to Rs. 3.35 lakh (depending on the capacity) against the earlier range of Rs. 19,700 to Rs. 51,250.

In violation of the Punjab financial rules, the contract award to the two official suppliers did not mention their addresses. Even the purchase orders issued to them as different firms had common address (SCO 335-336, Sector 35-B, Chandigarh).

MODUS OPERANDI

The companies revised the contract rate for the supply of glassware that the state need for its departments such as health and technical education. They required four certifications (chemical composition, thermal properties, chemical durability and calibration test reports) from National Accredited Board for Laboratories (NABL), out of which they didn’t submit three.

The NABL has no provision for testing glassware for “chemical composition”, the nodal government agency has clarified, yet it was a contract condition. The supplier, Navdeep Kohli of N&S Enterprises, had submitted the NABL test reports only for calibration (measurement marking standards on the articles).

The committee of the controller of stores (COS), while drafting the new contracts policy, specified only Borosil (Indian) and Corning (foreign) brands as preferred. The logic given was that the two companies had a turnover of more than Rs 10 crore. The local suppliers had then pointed out that even suppliers and manufacturers such as Duran-Rivera had more than this turnover. Kohli became the only supplier eventually along with Sunrise Enterprise as “servicing dealer” by virtue of being the nodal supplier of Borosil in the region.

The bulk purchases worth Rs. 5 crore were divided into four consignments to beat the clause that made mandatory to have clearance from a panel of senior officers (the principal secretaries of the finance and industries departments, the head of the department concerned, and the COS) for the purchase of more than Rs. 2 crore.

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