Citizens' Issues
Attend to Chikki scam on top priority: Julio Ribeiro tells the chief secretary
Shocked by reports in Moneylife on the notorious chikki scam, the Public Concern for Governance Trust, headed by retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro has taken up the issue and shown willingness to even file a PIL, if required
 
After reading exclusive reports in Moneylife about the Chikki scam, retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, who is also a founder-Trustee of Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT), has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Secretary for taking up the investigation into this multi-crore scam on top priority. 
 
Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar has procured tell-tale documents pertaining to the Rs206 crore ‘Chikki’ scam by Pankaja Munde, the Minister of Women and Child Welfare, in Maharashtra. 
 
Mr Ribeiro, in a letter to SS Kshatriya, Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, said, “…regarding the Chikki Scam, a lot of evidence and documents are now in our possession, as they have been collected by activists for good governance. I am forwarding their findings for your perusal and analysis.”
 
The former Commissioner of Mumbai, has also requested, “an early decision on this matter, as it is of utmost public significance” in the letter.
 
Soon after a series of four articles pertaining to the Chikki scam were published in Moneylife (http://www.moneylife.in/article/pankaja-munde-ups-purchase-order-by-three-times-in-six-days/43054.html), Mr Ribeiro termed the issue as “scandalous”. Then, PCGT wrote to Sucheta Dalal, founder editor Moneylife, stating, “after learning through your Moneylife article on ''Chikki scam'', Mr Julio Ribeiro, ex-CP, Mumbai, DGP-Punjab and Gujarat and presently, Chairman, Public Concern for Governance Trust, Mumbai is interested in taking the matter to its logical conclusion through courts of law, as per his comment below forwarded for your information.”
 
Mr Ribeiro has also forwarded crucial documents to the Chief Secretary for early perusal of the same.
 
The documents forwarded by PCGT can nail the evidence of Pankaja Munde’s involvement and pertain to chikki being a major portion of procurement, but it involves malpractices and corruption in Ayurvedic biscuits, handmade paper, steel plates, sprinkles, protein powder, books, growth monitoring machines and plastic mats.
 
The issues under investigation would be as follows. 
 
Chikki: The Maharashtra chikki scam was first unearthed in sometime first week of June 2015. Several malpractices came to light in the procurement of chikki, biscuits, steel plates, water filters, plastic mats and so on. Many of the units which were awarded work didn’t exist at all, or were closed. Vaidya Industries was one such unit. After the scam was unearthed, media brought to light the facts that Vaidya industries was actually a fabrication unit, was closed long back and didn’t have the capacity or machinery to manufacture steel plates. Media also published visuals of this unit. 
 
Ayurvedic Biscuits: Pankaja Munde on 12 February 2015 citing same reasons as in chikki, ordered purchases of Ayurvedic biscuits worth Rs95.51 lakh. But, the very next day, it was increased to Rs5 crore without any changes in number of beneficiaries. When the order was passed, no competitive bids were invited, rate contract with company was not in force (As per GR dated 28 July 2011, rate contract was applicable till 27 July 2014). Neither did the company have its own production unit. The company did not even have Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) license for any of its products
 
Water filter cum purifiers: The haste shown by all the concerned offices in procurement of water filter-cum-purifiers raises so many questions. Officers of Women and Child Department and Industries Department went out of the way so that Everest Industries can get the contract. Interestingly, Everest Industries, which has been eligible for supply of water purifiers this year, was made eligible for supply of Plastic mats by the Industries Department. It shows that the contractor is well acquainted with “procedure” of WCD and Industries Department.
 
Handmade paper: The Women and Child Development Minister awarded around Rs12.31 crore printing contract to Handmade Paper Institute (HMPI) of Pune without a tender and any competitive bids. Everybody in this deal knew that Hand Made Paper Institute was leased out way back and not entitled for any rate fixation. 
 
Magic plastic mats: This is another case of a nexus between officials of WCD and contractors. As per media reports, a company to whom this contract was awarded was closed since last many years and was actually in the business of school benches and pipes. Even then, this closed unit participated in the tender process started by Industries Department. Interestingly, this non-existing company was successful in winning the contract for plastic mats. 
 
Growth monitoring machines: These machines are used to weigh malnourished children. Two contractors, Sai Hi-Tech Products and Nitiraj Engineers, were awarded the contract at a cost of Rs6 crore and Rs18 crore, respectively, flouting all norms and curiously, Nitiraj Engineers had not even applied for clinching the contract.
 
Last month, while giving Pankaja Munde a clean chit, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the setting up of the three-member Committee, headed by the present chief secretary to investigate the chikki-scam.
 
However, it is worth noting that the three-member Committee under the Chief Secretary is yet to be named.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh and Vijay Kumbhar, both are RTI activists from Pune. Ms Deshmukh is also consulting editor of Moneylife, and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

The vigilance of Mr. Kumbhar and Ms. Deshmukh has unearthed this scam within months of its perpetration. We all are grateful and beholden to these individuals for their courage and integrity.
Question is why do these pols continue to commit these crimes. Is it because they are counting on the notoriously slow judicial process?
I think that it is time that activists target the judicial reform vigorously. Until perons like Pankaja Munde are put behind bars expeditiously, the corrupt pols and babus will not change their ways.

Nilesh KAMERKAR

2 years ago

Those who are corrupt must not be spared.

Also, it is heartening to see, scaremongers are not feeling threatened anymore in their own country.

Keen on GST bill, government may convene a short session
With the monsoon session of parliament turning out to be a washout, the Narendra Modi government is thinking of convening a short session in September -- mainly to secure passage for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, sources said.
 
The sources said a "two-three-day session" could be convened in September as no major business could be carried out during the monsoon session that began on July 21 and ended on Thursday.
 
The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which met on Thursday, decided not to recommend immediate prorogation of the houses. The two houses were adjourned sine die. 
 
The sources said the decision to reconvene the monsoon session would depend on the progress the government makes in getting the support of opposition parties on the GST bill in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks a majority. 
 
The bill could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session despite government efforts.
 
The Congress forced repeated adjournments in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over its demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam recruitment scam.

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COMMENTS

Anand Vaidya

2 years ago

The gov could blackmail Congress on the National Herald scam and get the GST, LAB passed. No?

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

Unless the PM and his party are prepared to say mea culpa and beg forgiveness for their past obstruction of the same bill, another short session will not help.
The corporate bigwigs and the senior, sidelined BJP stalwarts have to drum some sense into this arrogant coterie.

Slew of measures announced to reduce Delhi pollution
Increasing the number of CNG buses, crackdown on polluting vehicles and industries and tree plantation drives are some of the many steps being taken by the Delhi government to curb rising pollution in the national capital, a statement said on Thursday.
 
As per the report on curbing pollution in the national capital submitted to the environment ministry, the Delhi government said surveillance against adulteration of diesel and petrol had begun in the city while the process of issuing pollution under control (PUC) certificates to vehicles was being made stringent.
 
"We are strengthening and expanding public transport and by the end of 2016, 1,380 semi-low floor buses, 500 mini buses, and 1,000 buses that will run on CNG under the cluster scheme will be introduced," the report said.
 
In addition, the PUC system is being made tamper proof and in the first six months of 2015, a total of 33,554 motorists have been prosecuted for not carrying valid PUC certificates.
 
Furthermore, entry of overloaded commercial vehicles too is being curtailed and between December 5, 2014 and June 30, 2015, a total of 3,734 vehicles were fined for polluting.
 
"The transport department is contemplating a remote sensing based PUC checking on the lines of Kolkata and is in the process of developing online pollution checking module where the pollution would be checked on real time basis and will be captured on the sensor instantaneously," the report said.
 
As far as industrial pollution is concerned, the Badarpur and Rajghat thermal power plants will soon install online monitoring system while the Timarpur Okhla plant has already installed it. The upcoming Ghazipur and Bawana plants will install the system before their commissioning.
 
The national capital has at present 20 stations to assess air quality. Setting up of at least 20 more in the national capital region has been recommended.
 
In addition, the department of forests has started the project of planting around 12 lakh saplings in the national capital by 2016.
 
Similar reports were submitted by Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan on steps taken to lower pollution in the national capital region.
 
Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar had three meetings with the environment ministers and senior officials of the four states between April and July.
 
A three month action plan and another for one year was formulated to tackle the four focus areas - agriculture, construction waste and demolition waste and vehicular pollution in the last meeting held on July 24.

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