Rs 206 crore ‘chikki scam’: Maharashtra ACB writes to principal secretary on Pankaja Munde

Mumbai(WEB TEAM): Trouble for BJP’s Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde seems to be increasing as the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has written to the state principal secretary over the complaint against her alleged role in Rs 206-crore scam.

Speaking to dna, ACB director Praveen Dixit said, “We have sought the information from the Women and Child Welfare department about the particular deal. It’s a routine procudure and the next move will be decided accordingly.”

A day ago, Pankaja Munde was accusing of involvement in a “scam” by clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day instead of inviting tenders, thus violating norms.

The issue relates to the purchase of a host of items including snacks, mats, dishes and books for children under the Integrated Child Development Services by the Women and Child Development Ministry, which Munde heads.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) spokesperson Sachin Sawant had on Wednesday, met ACB director Praveen Dixit and handed over a six-page memorandum detailing the charges.

The Congress has alleged that despite rules mandating e-tendering for expenses above Rs 3 lakh, the WCD had taken the decision for purchases worth Rs 206 crore in a single day, clearing 24 proposals in 24 hours.

It is alleged that Munde bypassed the process of e-tendering, instead going for the rate contract system of clearing purchases, which is prohibited under law.

On February 13, 24 proposals were cleared in a single day. Munde allegedly cleared purchases to the tune of Rs 80 crores for an NGO called Suryakant Sahakari Sansthan, though the organisation had no manufacturing unit for making chikkis.

Moreover, clearance was provided to a Nashik-based company for installing water filters. The rate per filter was allegedly raised from Rs 4500 to Rs 5200 in this transaction.

Clearances for manufacturing growth-monitoring machines for malnutritioned children was given to two companies from North Maharashtra. These companies are Sai Hitech Products (Rs 6 crores) and Nitiraj Engineers (Rs 18 crores).

It is alleged that all these clearances were made without regard for rules and regulations.

Reacting to the allegations, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Prima facie there appears to be no wrong-doing (on Pankaja’s part). If needed, we will probe the issue.”

Meanwhile Munde, who is outside the country, denied any wrongdoing in an email statement.

“I, as a minister (have) taken some dynamic decision to reduce currption…has also troubled some money-minded bunch of people involved…I have not broken any rules as far I am concerned and also not feared of any allegations,” Munde said.

(With inputs from Zee Media Bureau)