The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation on Tuesday put up a brave front after allegations surfaced that the civic body was dented by Rs 83 lakh by its own officials in the purchase of sewing machines which are distributed free among poor women.
The civic administration denied any wrongdoing and said no scam had taken place. Though he made efforts to explain nothing wrong had happened, Municipal Commissioner Rajeev Jadhav sounded worried that his administration would have a lot of explaining to do regarding purchase of sewing machines at a much higher cost than the market price.
“No, I don’t think there is anything wrong in the purchase of the machines,” Jadhav told this paper, adding the vigilance committee appointed to probe the allegations has not yet submitted the report to him and the report itself would not be final.
The allegations of wrongdoing surfaced on Tuesday after BJP leader Sarang Kamtekar, who was one of the complainants in the case, got hold of a copy of the internal communication between the PCMC administration and the vigilance committee.
The committee was appointed after two corporators, Seema Salve and Asha Shendge, and Kamtekar himself, alleged that as many as 13,500 sewing machines were purchased by the urban community deparment of the PCMC at a much higher cost from a contractor allegedly close to a former civic body mayor.
Kamtekar said the market price of one sewing machine was Rs 3,083, which the PCMC purchased for Rs 4,777. “In all, the PCMC paid Rs 6.34 crore to the contractor when the lowest tender was received for Rs 5.51 crore. The report by the committee confirms our allegations,” he said.
Savle said that what is further unnerving is that the machines are China-made. “The contractor who supplied the machines does not have a service centre in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Where will the 13,500 beneficiaries go in case the machines develop problems? Besides, they come with no guarantee,” she said.
Shendge said instead of inviting tenders, giving advertisements, selecting contractors and holding meetings, the PCMC can save a lot of time and money by directly depositing the amount for purchase of sewing machines in the bank account of the beneficiaries. “This would help avoid ugly happenings and loss to the exchequer,” she said.