MUMBAI: In a fresh twist to the Pankaja Munde controversy, what is being tagged as ‘Chikki Scam’ worth Rs. 206 crore, it was on Friday revealed that the NGO that was offered the contract by the Maharashtra Women and Child Development Minister to supply ‘chikkis’ is headed by a Congress leader.
Munde is under massive criticism over alleged irregularities in awarding contracts worth Rs 2.06 billion. Among several charges Munde is accused of is a contract to purchase ‘chikkis’ (sweet cookies with nuts and dry fruits in a jaggery base) from a women’s NGO based in Sindhudurg. However, the manufacturing facilities of the NGO were not ascertained. (Also Read: BJP MLA Pankaja Munde at the centre of Maharashtra Chikki scam worth Rs 206 crore)
According to a media report, the Sindhudurg-based Suryakanta Mahila Audyogik Sahakari Sanstha is headed by Pradnya Parab, Congress’ women’s cell head for the Sindhudurg district. The exposure has definitely left the former ruling party embarrassed.
The party had filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and demanded a CBI investigation into the matter.
According to the documents submitted by the Congress to the ACB, the state government had issued Government Resolutions (GRs) for the award of three contracts for dry coconut chikki, rajgira chikki and micro-nutrient chikki to the NGO on February 13.
While the contract for micro-nutrient chikki was worth Rs 80 crore at a rate of Rs 28.50 per 100 gm, the contract for rajgira chikki valued Rs 23.85 crore, believing a rate of Rs 21.50 for 100 gm. On the other hand, the contract for dry coconut chikki was worth Rs 10.41 crore.
Meanwhile, Advisor to the NGO and a cousin of Parab, MK Gawade explained that Suryakanta had received a contract of approximately Rs 75 crore where Rs 52 crore for peanut micro-nutrient chikki and Rs 22 crore for rajgira chikki to provide a total quantity of about 3,000 tonne.
The complaint filed by the Congress had also mentioned a letter from the Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad about the chikki having bits of sand and clay in it to which Gawade responded, “The moment we learnt about the complaint, we immediately sent samples for testing to a government laboratory in Nagpur. The results say the samples are fine. However, we have sent the samples to another government laboratory in Delhi and are awaiting written results. We take all precautions to ensure our products are of the best quality.”
The media report further informed that Parab is a three-time local corporator who was previously the Chief of the Women’s Cell of NCP in Sindhudurg district. While she joined the Congress in 2010, senior Congress leader Narayan Rane had launched the first factory of Suryakanta when the NGO began its services in 2005.
Pankaja Munde, daughter of late Gopinath Munde, a Union Minister in the Modi cabinet who died in a road accident in New Delhi last year is charged of doling out the multi-crore-rupee contracts through 24 GRs on a single day (February 13) instead of adopting the e-tendering or tender route.
Allegations against Munde include awarding contracts for workbooks for students, water filters, growth monitoring machines for malnourished kids, medicines and ‘chikkis’.
Rubbishing the allegations against her, Munde in an e-mail statement claimed that some of her active decisions as a minister to decrease corruption have upset some ‘money-minded bunch of people’.
According to the norms of the state government in December 2014, e-tendering is compulsion for all contracts in excess of Rs 3 lakh and in cases where the rates were fixed, e-tendering was obligatory for contracts worth Rs 1 crore since April this year.