In a severe blow to BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, today, the Supreme Court has annulled tenders amounting to Rs 6,300 crore issued in 2016 by the Maharashtra Women and Child Development Department for supplying ‘Take Home Ration’ as supplementary nutrition at anganwadis in the state.
The apex court observed that some of the technical and financial conditions introduced by the Fadnavis government in the tender notice were arbitrary and favoured big players and industrialists in the field, at the cost of women self-help groups (SHGs).
This verdict is said to be a major blow to Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde, who has been facing severe allegations of corruption from the opposition over the food contract. Chief Minister had earlier denied these allegations of corruption.
Women and Child Development Ministry had issued the consolidated tender on March 8, 2016, after securing a nod from the State Cabinet on February 23, 2016. Tender was allotted contracts for supply of ‘Take Home Ration’ to anganwadis for five years, which could be extended for two more years.
Vaishnorani Mahila Bachat Gat, which is the petitioner in the case, had objected to the insistence of extrusion-based technology for the manufacture of the ‘Take Home Ration’ mixtures and the condition regarding annual financial turnover in the tender notice, arguing that it effectively ruled out local SHGs from participating in the tender, and created a monopoly of sorts for a handful of big companies.