NPP alleges anomalies in PDS tendering, demands CBI probe

From A Correspondent

SHILLONG, June 13: Alleging irregularities in the tendering process for supply of sugar under the Public Distribution System in Meghalaya,   the tiol People’s Party (NPP) has demanded a CBI probe into the matter.

“We demand a CBI inquiry into the anomaly (tendering) of favouring a particular bidder at an exorbitant rate. The Food and Civil Supplies Minister should step down until the inquiry is over,” NPP legislator and spokesperson, James K Sangma told mediapersons here today.

According to James, after the centre stopped the Levy System in 2014, it asked all the state governments to procure sugar from the open market by calling tenders.

The Meghalaya government that year had invited tender for supply of sugar, in which four bidders participated.

The bidders are – San Enterprises which quoted, Rs 37, 850 per metric ton, TatyasahebkoreWar SSK Ltd, Rs 40, 701 per metric ton and Kendriya Bhandar, Rs 43, 270 per metric ton.

The NPP spokesperson said that when the state government delayed in filizing the supplier – San Enterprises and TatyasahebkoreWar SSK Ltd withdrew their offer and the supply of sugar was allotted to Kendriya Bhandar, a firm based in Guwahati who had tied up with Sainik Foods, New Delhi.

He pointed out that if the rate of medium quality sugar from the open market is Rs 45, the centre pays Rs 18.50 as subsidy, the fair price shop charges Rs 20 from the consumer and the balance amount which comes to Rs 6.50 is borne by the state government.

Meanwhile, a Meghalaya official today informed that the total price of PDS sugar for 1 kg in Meghalaya earlier was Rs 44.27, which includes Rs 18.50 Central subsidy, state government’s share Rs 5.77, and the consumers have to pay Rs 20.

The official admitted that the PDS sugar requirement for the state is 17,040 metric ton per month.

Interestingly in the year, 2015, according to James the eligibility criteria were allegedly changed “to suit particular needs of a particular party”.

According to James, the tender was called in September 2015, in which Garden Court Distilleries Private Limited quoted Rs 44, 351 per metric ton, Beta Edible Processing Private Limited quoted Rs 44, 440 per metric ton, SS Food Industries quoted Rs 44, 570 per metric ton and Dr Frozen Foods Indian Private Limited quoted Rs 45, 610 per metric ton.

The NPP spokesperson informed that the state government should have awarded the tender to Garden Court Distilleries Private Limited which had quoted Rs 44, 351 per metric ton.

“The tender was cancelled since the state government claimed that the rates were too high and subsequently a three month extension was issued to Kendriya Bhandar to supply sugar at the rate of Rs 43, 270 per metric ton,” James said.

The NPP spokesperson also said that the government had put in additiol conditions like “packaging unit in Meghalaya or nearby for close monitoring of quality, packing and delivery of sugar.”

“It seems that there is a cartel working with the Food and Civil Supplies department,” James alleged.

James informed that subsequently, the Food and Civil Supplies Department offered the tender to one firm-Beta Edibles Processing Private Limited which quoted a whopping Rs 54, 270 per metric ton.

Terming the jump from the previous year as “phenomel” the NPP Spokesperson said that the Meghalaya Government now has to shell out Rs 16.77 for 1 kg.

However, according to the state government official it has not been able to appoint a fresh supplier after the Meghalaya High Court passed a stay order recently prohibiting the government from going ahead with the allotment of work order for supply of sugar.

“The government is waiting for a fil order from the court in this regard,” the official said.   

The official informed that the matter was taken to court by one of the bidders - Garden Court Distilleries Private Limited – after it was disqualified as the tender papers did not fulfill the conditions mentioned in the tender.

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