news Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 05:30
Image source:¬†Pankaja Gopinath Munde/Facebook Maharashtra's Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde on Wednesday was embroiled in a controversy involving alleged irregularities in awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore and the opposition demanded a probe. Among the allegations are irregularities in awarding contracts for workbooks for students, water filters, growth monitoring machines for malnourished kids, medicines and chikkis (sweet cookies with nuts and dryfruits in a jaggery base) earlier this year. Munde, however, rubbished all allegations and claimed that some of her dynamic decisions as minister to reduce corruption have upset some "money-minded bunch of people". "I have not broken any rules, as far as I am concerned... also do not fear any allegations. I'm here to do the best for those kids and women, and I will do," Munde said in a statement. According to a report by The New Indian Express,¬†Munde received a letter from Manjushree Gund, the president of Ahmednagar Zilha Parishad, on June 15 which stated that the chikki given to tribal students under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was adulterated with clay. Munde had cleared the purchase of the chikki, along with several other items including mats, books and water filters, by allegedly violating several norms and awarding contracts at a cost of Rs 206 crore.¬† In what is said to be a record in the state's administration, Munde cleared all the purchases on February 13 through 24 Government Resolutions (GR) that had been hurriedly issued, states the report. She cleared the purchase of workbooks for students worth Rs 5.6 crore from a Navi Mumbai-based firm, the payment cheque for which was issued to its owner in his personal capacity and not in the firm's name. She also raised the cost per unit of water filters from a Nashik-based company to Rs 5,200 even after it was approved for purchase by ICDS Commissioner Vinita Singal at Rs 4,500 per unit. According to Maharashtra government rules, government purchases above Rs 3 lakh needs to be done through e-tendering.¬† Officer rejected it in 2013 but contract for chikki went to the same NGO under Pankaja Munde ‚ÄĒ Kartikeya Sharma (@kartikeya_1975) June 24, 2015 The newspaper, which is in possession of documents which states the rules which Munde has allegedly violated, goes on to point out several other alleged violation of norms by the first time minister from the BJP. Munde did not respond to the newspaper's calls or text messages asking her to respond to the allegations. ‚ÄúThe hurriedness in awarding 24 contracts on the same day without following rules clearly indicates that the minister wanted to choose her favourite contractors. It may not fall into the category of scams but the purpose behind violation of rules definitely tells somethings has gone wrong,‚ÄĚ the report quotes a senior official in the State‚Äôs seat of power, Mantralaya, as saying. Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant lodged a formal complaint with the state Anti-Corruption Bureau demanding a probe into the allegations against Munde. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan termed the matter as serious and urged the government to hand it over to the Central Bureau of Investigation for a probe. With inputs from IANS Also Read: Why AAP leaders need a lesson in gender equality
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