According to a report by The New Indian Express, Maharashtra Women and Children Development Minister Pankaja Munde received a letter from Manjushree Gund, the president of Ahmednagar Zilha Parishad, on June 15 which stated that the chikki (sweet prepared using groundnuts and jaggery), 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.
As per state administration records, Munde had cleared all the purchases on February 13 through 24 Government Resolutions (GR) that had been issued in a hurry.
Munde also 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 the rules and regulations of the Maharashtra government, purchases above Rs 3 lakh needs to be done through e-tendering by the state government.
The newspaper, which is in possession of documents mentioning 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, and daughter of Gopinath Munde.
TNIE claims that Munde did not respond to the newspaper’s calls or text messages asking her to respond to the allegations.
The report also quotes a senior official in the State’s seat of power, Mantralaya saying that, “The 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.”