‘Payments made to the agency despite complaints of irregularities in purchase of materials for anganwadis’

A complaint has been filed with the Lokayukta seeking action against a private agency as well as some officials for alleged irregularities in the purchase of materials for anganwadis in Kolar taluk.

In his complaint filed a couple of days ago, social activist Bellambari Nagaraj alleged that Rs. 34.15 lakh was released to Sunshine Enterprises though the then Chief Executive Officer of the Kolar Zilla Panchayat K. Rajendra Cholan, following an inquiry, ordered in June 2012 that the agency be blacklisted and a criminal case be filed against it for irregularities.

Mr. Cholan had initiated the inquiry based on a complaint that there were irregularities in the supply of blankets, gas stove tables and other materials to anganwadis in the taluk in 2011–12. It was alleged that the agency was given the order even before the tender process was completed.

The complainant had alleged that the materials were supplied at double the market price and officials concerned had colluded with the agency. After the inquiry, Mr. Cholan had ordered disciplinary action against the then Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) Ravindra and Executive Officer of the Kolar Taluk Panchayat K.S. Bhat. He had also directed that two cheques (for Rs. 22,53,780 and Rs. 11,61,450) issued to the agency be withheld.

However, Mr. Nagaraj alleged in his complaint that Deputy Director of Women and Child Welfare Department Vijayalakshmi Shenoy (who now stands transferred) and CEO of the zilla panchayat S.M. Zulfikar Ullah permitted payment of Rs. 34.15 lakh to the agency in violation of Mr. Cholan’s order. Hence, a criminal complaint should be lodged against Sunshine Enterprises and Ms. Shenoy and Mr. Ullah be booked under the under Prevention of Corruption Act, Mr. Nagaraj urged in his complaint.

He said Ms. Shenoy submitted a proposal to the zilla panchayat CEO on January 1, 2013 on clearing the cheques. “Both Ms. Vijayalakshmi and the present CDPO Kiran received bribes to get the cheques passed,” Mr. Nagaraj alleged.

Rules followed: CEO

Mr. Ullah, however, has said all rules have been followed in making payments to Sunshine Enterprises.

Mr. Ullah told The Hindu on Monday that once the work order was placed with an agency, payment had to be made for the materials supplied. Payments cannot be withheld for ever on the pretext of a complaint against the agency, he said, and added that it could also lead to unnecessary legal proceedings. The only lapse on part of the agency, according to Mr. Ullah, is that it submitted a stock certificate to the Department of Treasury without actually supplying the materials.

“Kolar Zilla Panchayat president Chowdeshwari issued an order on 27.11.2012 clearing payments to the agency. However, it was complied with after going through all aspects and I gave sanction for the payment only on 17.01.2013,” the CEO said.

On Mr. Nagaraj’s complaint, Mr. Ullah said, “Every citizen is free to approach any statutory agency.”

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