Govt sits on prosecution sanction requests against officials

Govt sits on prosecution sanction requests against officials

Report indicts former director, joint director of women and child development

The State government is sitting on the prosecution sanction requests against former director, women and child development, Dr Shamla Iqbal, and ICDS joint director Usha Patwari in the Rs 500 crore-scam in ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) scheme.

The Lokayukta police final report not only indicted Shamla Iqbal for irregularities in the contract with a private firm on supply of nutritional food but also stated that food samples were found to be containing poisonous substances.

The request for Prosecution Sanction Order (PSO) is pending with the State government since March 2013. A senior official said that nine months after the request was sent, both the officials moved the High Court seeking quashing of the case.

ICDS scheme aims at providing nutrition to children aged between six months-six years, expectant, lactating mothers and adolescent girls. The scheme, funded by both Central and State governments, is to provide nutritional food at 63,337 anganwadi centres recognised under the Department of Women and Child Development.

Tender was called for supply of nutritional food to these centres across the State and 10 companies had taken part in the tender process. The department entered into an agreement with the lowest bidder Cristy Friedgram Industries, based out in Chennai, for supply of nutritional food supplement worth Rs 500 crore.

Based on an anonymous complaint, the Lokayukta police had registered an FIR and conducted searches at 10 premises in March 2012. The food samples collected from anganwadi centres were sent for an analysis to three different laboratories – Prestine Laboratories in Kodigehalli, Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) in Mysuru and National Institution of Nutrition in Hyderabad.

The report stated that the food contained coliform bacteria and certain dangerous chemicals harmful to expectant and lactating mothers. The final report also quotes from another report submitted by the regional director of National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development stating that insects and bacteria were also found in the food supplied by the company.

The Lokayukta final report stated that there were ample evidence against Dr Shamla Iqbal and Usha Patwari. The report stated that both the officials did not take any action against the company for violation of agreement and also for supplying sub-standard food in a scheme meant for providing nutritional supplement.

Company under scanner  

As per the agreement, Cristy Friedgram Industries supposed to have provided equipments, such as grain clearing machines, grinding machines, packing machines and train staff at the 137 supplementary production centres in the State.

This apart, the State government had also submitted an undertaking before the Supreme Court stating that since self-help groups at the supplementary production training centres were not trained in the production of nutritional supplement, the services of Christy Friedgram will be availed till August 2007.

The company was allowed to extend the project three times. But failed to build 137 supplementary production centres. Instead, the company had been appointing its own employees, the report stated.

The Lokayukta police have named the owner of the company T S Kumaraswamy and S Subramani, managing director in Bengaluru, in the final report.