Now, Tawde under cloud over award of Rs 191-cr contract
The allegations against Education Minister Vinod Tawde came within days of Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde facing similar accusations in awarding contracts for various purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day in February without following the mandatory e-tendering process.
The matter relates to the Education department issuing a Government Resolution authorising the office of the Education Director (Primary) to enter into a contract for supply of 62,105 fire extinguishers for Zilla Parishad schools across the state on February 11 without inviting tenders.
Each fire extinguisher was to be procured at a price of Rs 8,321 and each school was to be provided three pieces. The contract, cleared by <g data-gr-id="55">Tawde</g>, has, however, been put on hold after the Finance Department objected to it and sought a probe, official sources said. The first-ever BJP-led government in Maharashtra has made e-tendering of contracts mandatory for all purchases above Rs three lakh.
Tawde, a key minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government, however, claimed no irregularity was committed as contractors had not been paid. “Not a single rupee has been paid to contractors. We stopped the order immediately after the Finance Department raised objections,” Tawde told reporters on Tuesday.
Top BJP ministers in the Fadnavis government were quick to jump to his defence. At a hurriedly convened press conference this afternoon, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “The Opposition is making a mountain out of molehill”.
Flanked by Mungantiwar and Cooperatives Minister Chandrakant Patil, Tawde said he had only complied with a Supreme Court order on providing fire-fighting equipment to schools.
About Rs 6-crore worth equipment was delivered but no payment has been made, Tawde said. Though BJP ministers came to the defence of a beleaguered Tawde, <g data-gr-id="54">faultlines</g> were visible, yet again, in the party’s ties with Shiv Sena, a junior partner in the Fadnavis government.
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