Chikki row: 2 labs clear samples but Zilla Parishad chief sticks to stand

Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde has got some reprieve as the snack supplied to Ahmednagar district schools has been found unadulterated and fit for consumption by two government labs.

President of Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad Manisha Gund, who had alleged that the 'chikki' supplied to Ahmednagar district schools contained traces of mud, was, however, not convinced by the reports of laboratories at Nashik and Pune and said she would wait for reports from other three government labs.

Controversy broke out after Gund wrote to state Women and Child Development (WCD) department claiming that the 'chikki' contained traces of mud.

WCD Minister Munde has since then been in the line of fire after it was alleged that she flouted rules while awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore for procurement of various goods, including the snack, through a rate contract system without inviting tenders.

Subsequently it came to light that the department had approved purchase order of 24 items worth Rs 206,50,14,574 in a single day on February 13, 2015.

Following Gund's letter, all chikkis supplied to Ahmednagar schools were seized and samples were sent for test.

Gund said that the samples were taken and sealed in presence of officers from Food and Drugs department and that ZP functionaries were also present.

"The reports from Government laboratories at Nashik and Pune stated that mud was not found in the samples and the items were in accordance to the standards finalised by of state government," she told reporters last evening. Gund said she had tasted the chikki and hence cannot believe the report.

"I am waiting for report from three other laboratories which have been empanelled by the state," she said. Munde had, earlier, rubbished the allegations calling it as a mere "scam of words" and said she will step down if found guilty. She had claimed that contracts under rate contract system were allowed in order to use Centre's fund before the end of financial year.

"Between 2010-2015 (when Congress-NCP was in power), purchases worth Rs 408 crore were done through the same rate contract system. The only thing I was thinking then was that the grants (from Centre to WCD) should not have lapsed as children would have suffered due to lack of nutritious food," she had said.

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