MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said the government is ready to conduct a probe into allegations that Women and Child Welfare Department under Pankaja Munde had awarded contracts to the tune of Rs 206 crore without inviting tenders, if Opposition furnishes evidence of violation of norms.
"If the Opposition (Congress and NCP) points out, with evidence, that norms have been flouted, we are ready to conduct an inquiry into the purchases," Fadnavis said. However, hitting out at the Opposition, he said while they were in power, purchases were made through similar rate contract system (in which material is purchased after negotiations on its rate) and they should also give an explanation for it.
"If the Opposition is alleging that tenders were not issued and norms were flouted, they should remember that our Government Resolution was issued in April while the purchases were cleared before that. Also, while they were in power, a similar rate contract system was being used by them. They should also give an explanation into their purchases. Their double standards will be out then," he said.
The Chief Minister said the government had taken decision to purchase items worth more than Rs 1 crore by e-tender on April 17, 2015, but the purchases under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was for the year 2014-15. "The previous government had given purchase order of Rs 164 crore during 2012-13, Rs 127 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 56 crore in June-July 2014 by the same rate contract," he said.
The ICDS had approved purchase orders to registered contractors only, he said. "If ICDS had not taken the decision, it would not have been possible to use the grants available before March 31, 2015, and it would have got lapsed, thereby adversely affecting the beneficiaries," Fadnavis said.
He further said that the purchases under the ICDS were to provide nutritious food to anganwadis. The purchases by ICDS are based on the rate contract finalised by Director General of Supply and Disposal. The Fadnavis government has been hit by first major allegation of a 'scam' after Congress accused Pankaja, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, of clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on February 13 through 24 Government Resolutions.
A host of items including snacks, mats, dishes, water filters, medicines and books for children were purchased under the Integrated Child Development Services by the Women and Child Development Ministry. Congress leader Sachin Sawant had filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the issue and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had even sought a CBI probe.
Sawant today claimed that he received threatening calls after he filed a complaint with the ACB.