Assam: Sewing machines worth Rs. 80 Lakh seized from SWD
GUWAHATI, June 19, 2018: Around 1055 sewing machine were seized by sleuths of the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau amounting Rs. 94 lakh from a godown located at Chandmari on Monday in connection with a case related to corruption in procurements made by the state social welfare department.
The godown is owned by contractor Paban Agarwal, proprietor of M/s Global India.
Agarwal, who has been chargesheeted in this case, has recently secured pre-arrest bail from Gauhati High Court.
The bureau suspects that instead of supplying the sewing machines to the beneficiaries, Agarwal had stored those in the godown for the past two years in order to sell those in the open market.
According to a source, investigation into the case has revealed largescale anomalies in procuring sewing machines under centrally-funded Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana in Goalpara and Kamrup districts on a pilot basis in 2013-14 during the previous Tarun Gogoi government.
The scheme was formulated to cover wage loss incurred by underprivileged expecting and lactating mothers by providing financial aid of Rs 4,000 per beneficiary in three instalments through cash transfer. The funds were released to the district social welfare officers of Goalpara and Kamrup for transfer to the beneficiaries.
"After disbursal of some money to the beneficiaries, a section of officials of the social welfare department entered into a conspiracy to misappropriate the unspent/undisbursed money of the scheme," the source said.
"These officials, including some from the department's district-level and state-level purchase committees, allotted an order to a private firm, M/s Global India, to supply office stationeries and other miscellaneous items, which surprisingly included sewing machines under the scheme without inviting bids thus violataing norms," he said.
"They had falsely shown the notice inviting quotations to have been published in newspapers through the directorate of information and public relations. During verification it was found that no such notice was published," he said.
"Without publishing any quotation notice, the state-level purchase committee selected M/s Global India by violating the guidelines. The firm was asked to supply sewing machines worth a couple of crores for the two districts without even finalising the names of beneficiaries", he added.
The former programme officer of the social welfare department, Kulendra Saikia, and its finance and accounts officer Rajat Suvra Bhattacharjee – who were also members of the purchase committee – had allegedly taken active part in the conspiracy for illegal procurement of sewing machines for their wrongful gain.
He said Hemi Bora and Kishori Baruah, the previous district social welfare officers of Goalpara and Kamrup districts, had allegedly made payments to the firm before receiving the sewing machines.