Pillow purchase scam: IAS officer hits back at minister Anjaneya

Pillow purchase scam: IAS officer  hits back at minister Anjaneya

Social Welfare Department Secretary N Manjunath Prasad has written to Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, refuting charges of irregularities made against him by Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya in the purchase of coir mattresses and pillows.

In a six-page letter dated May 31, a copy of which is with this paper, the secretary has described charges by the minister as unjustified and baseless. “The procurement has been done strictly in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Government of Karnataka and that there is absolutely no question of any loss to the exchequer,” he stated.

Anjaneya has accused Manjunath, the then Commissioner of Social Welfare S N Jayaram and the then Executive Director of Karnataka Residential Education Institution Society (KREIS) Naganayak of purchasing mattresses to be supplied to the students of the residential schools at exorbitant prices. The minister had also found the mattresses of inferior quality. Principal Secretary to Backward Classes Welfare Department Shalini Rajneesh had recommended either CID or the Lokayukta probe after conducting an internal inquiry.

Manjunath Prasad has explained in detail the prevailing price of mattresses and pillows of Karnataka State Coir Development Corporation Limited (KSCDCL) when the purchase order was placed.

The KSCRCL had fixed the cost of mattress at Rs 1,750 per piece and Rs 196 for a pillow in 2012-13. Later in September 2013, it revised the cost of mattress to Rs 3,200 per piece and Rs 400 for a pillow. Subsequently, the cost was again increased to Rs 3,520 per mattress and Rs 440 per pillow, he said.

Both the Department and the KREIS had negotiated the price with the KSCDCL and requested it to supply the products at the 2012-13 rates. But the KSCDCL had turned down the request, saying that the prices of raw materials for manufacturing mattresses and pillows have increased by 150 to 200 per cent, the officer pointed out.

According to the secretary, there was substantial savings to the government in the purchase. The department had procured mattress at Rs 3,150 each though the prevailing price in March 19, 2014 was Rs 3,200 each. By the time the order was placed with the KSCDCL (on October 30, 2014), the rate had increased. But the department managed to procure the mattresses Rs 3,150 each, he argued.

On the charge of mattresses being of substandard quality, the officer said the Central Institute of Coir Technology, a government of India enterprise, has certified them as of good quality. On an accusation that he has not furnished the file concerned to Shalini Rajneesh, he has said that the file was in the possession of the minister.

“I have held a number of responsible positions in Karnataka with an unblemished record. These baseless allegations by the Hon’ble Minister alleging irregularities has caused deep pain and anguish to me. Hence, I would like to set the record straight and accordingly I’ve brought all related facts and figures to your kind notice. I would also request you to bring the same to the notice of the Hon'ble Chief Minister,” he stated.

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