It's not only the common man who was fooled. Officials at the Central Stores Purchase Organisation (CSPO) managed to take Industries Minister Narayan Rane and his junior, state minister Sachin Ahir, for a royal ride.
CSPO officials tricked Industries Minister Narayan Rane, and his junior minister, Sachin Ahir, into providing fudged replies in the state assembly in 2012, in response to the allegations of mismanagement. File pic
The committee members of CSPO tricked both ministers into giving bogus information to the Maharashtra Assembly during its third session held in 2012, altering answers approved by principal secretary (industries), Maharashtra government.
Worse, they kept in cold storage as many as five complaints from various legislators and corporators from across the state, who had given details in their letters of mismanagement in the CSPO tendering process.
Whiff of a scam
A probe by the Industries Development Commissioner (DC) last year found that the CSPO committee members twisted answers provided to the state Assembly against Starred Question Number 91551. The question was asked by a horde of legislators from across the state, in reaction to the poor quality of goods received by their people. They had desired to enquire into the mismanagement in the CSPO tendering process.
Subsequent internal probes carried out by the DC show that several written complaints made by legislators after the session, too, were suppressed to protect about half a dozen officials found guilty of their role in the scam. One of the then complainants was legislator Rajan Salvi, a Shiv Sena MLA from Rajapur, who wrote to minister Ahir, pointing out the extent of the irregularities.
“The minister ordered a quick probe into the irregularities being carried out since 2010, the delay in action had meant poor quality goods already reached the rural areas, and many in need were denied their rights. The committee knowingly approved poor-quality traders, and allowed them to supply substandard material causing losses of crores to government,” Salvi told this paper.
The probe report of the DC (Report/cycle/2013/A-540) pointed out that in reply to Question 91551, raised by legislators Mangesh Sangle, Vinod Ghosalkar, Subhash Desai, RM Vani, Mahadev Babar, Harshwardhan Jadhav, Prakash Bhoir, Vasant Geete, and Shishir Shinde, the then head of the committee, P B Dandekar, fudged, fabricated and submitted a reply that was in variation with an answer previously approved by principal secretary (industries).
The PS (industries) had, in his response, stated that an enquiry officer has been appointed, as there was enough reason to believe some truth in the charges of mismanagement at CSPO: “Enquiry is needed in the functioning of CSPO by the DC (industries).”
Dandekar, however, altered the answer to: “We have received a note (on possible mismanagement) from the industry directorate and are looking into it and finding out facts.” However, the enquiry found out the answer was manipulated to misguide and hide facts from the Assembly, and protect those found guilty. “This was a clear attempt to fudge facts to the Legislative Assembly,” concluded the probe report.