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.

New York City Hospitals to End Filming Without Consent
After a reality television show filmed the death of a man without getting his family’s approval, New York City hospitals have decided to put an end to filming patients without consent
 
Bruised by criticism after a reality TV show surreptitiously recorded and aired a man’s death, New York City hospitals will no longer allow patients to be filmed without getting prior consent.
 
The Greater New York Hospital Association, an umbrella organization that represents all of New York City’s hospitals, has asked its member institutions to put an end to filming patients for entertainment purposes without getting their permission. The move came in response to an issue raised by a ProPublica story published with The New York Times earlier this year.
 
“Our member hospitals strongly agree that patients deserve privacy in the course of receiving care and that their medical information should be kept confidential in accordance with the law,” said Kenneth E. Raske, the president of Greater New York Hospital Association, in a letter to City Council members last month. The letter was released this week. 
 
ProPublica’s report, published in January, revealed how ABC’s reality show “NY Med” filmed the death of Mark Chanko, a patient at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, without getting permission from him or his family. In July, New York City Council members demanded that city hospitals prohibit the filming of patients.
 
“Not everything is made for TV,” said New York councilmember Dan Garodnick in an interview. "When you go into a hospital, you deserve to know that your sensitive moments are not going to end up on primetime.”
 
Chanko’s family only found out about the filming after the episode featuring his death aired. The family was not even aware that camera crews had been in the emergency room during Chanko’s final moments.
 
“My father should have never been on a reality television show,” said Kenneth Chanko, Mark Chanko’s son. “He went into the hospital with less than an hour to live. The fact that videographers were there waiting for drama to happen is just reprehensible to me.”
 
The family filed a lawsuit against ABC, NewYork-Presbyterian and the doctor who treated Chanko. Although the case was dismissed before discovery, the New York State Court of Appeals recently agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments for the case are expected to be heard in the coming months. Kenneth Chanko also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ civil rights office. It is still under review.
 
NewYork-Presbyterian did not respond to a request for comment on the hospital association’s stance on filming, or whether NewYork-Presbyterian would do as the group has asked. ABC News declined to comment citing pending litigation. It remains unclear whether “NY Med” will film a third season at NewYork-Presbyterian. 
 
In court filings, the hospital and the network have acknowledged that they did not have consent from Chanko or his family, but have argued that Chanko was unrecognizable to the public. Lawyers for the network added that “NY Med” is protected by the First Amendment. The hospital’s attorneys have also asserted that state law only grants the right of privacy to the living and that Mark Chanko’s privacy rights ended with his death. 
 
Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, said reality shows should never film patients without their consent. (Mark Chanko’s daughter-in-law is affiliated with New York University’s medical ethics division.) 
 
“People don’t go to the hospital to be on reality television,” Caplan said. “It’s exploitation and it shouldn’t be happening anywhere in a hospital, a nursing home, or any other healthcare setting.”
 
In response to ProPublica’s reporting, state lawmakers have recently introduced legislation that would make it a felony to film patients during treatment without getting their consent first. State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, a Queens Democrat and the sponsor of the proposed bill, applauded the move by the Greater New York Hospital Association, but said this was just the first step.
 
“We feel that we want a more permanent fix — something in the law,” Braunstein said in an interview. “Our legislation applies not just to hospitals, but anyone who broadcasts treatment without consent.” 
 
The bill currently has 19 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Rules Committee. The legislation has been amended to allow filming for certain purposes, such as education or security. Braunstein also plans to propose legislation to allow patients and their families to sue for privacy violations, which is currently not allowed under federal patient privacy laws or New York State’s Patients’ Bill of Rights.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica

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