n an embarrassment to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, a Samajwadi Party MLA has demanded investigation into an alleged "nutrition scam" involving businessman Gurdeep Singh Chadha, alias Ponty Chadha.
Questions have been raised over the manner in which contracts were awarded to Chadha's company Great Value Food for supplying nutritious food to the underweight and malnourished children in the last few years. This year too Chadha is likely to bag the Rs 9,000 crore contract, as the technical bid has apparently gone in his company's favour. There have been allegations of Chadha getting "favours" from the SP government in other projects as well.
Samajwadi Party MLA Sharda Pratap Shukla has written a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav demanding that the matter be investigated either by the CBI or an economic offence wing. "The contract was awarded to Chadha during the earlier Mayawati regime as well. The programme did not reach to the children for which the programme was designed. And now again, the contract has been given to the same company," Shukla told The Sunday Guardian from Lucknow.
The state government is in the process of giving the tender under the supplementary nutrition programme of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Sources said that Chadha, who has been getting the contract since 2005, is likely to be awarded the contract as the technical bid has gone in favour of Great Value Food run by him to supply nutritious food to the children. However, this has created a furore as, sources said, this is in violation of the Supreme Court order of 2004, which says that the tender could be awarded to self-help groups or village communities.
The BJP has sensed a major scam in this and has decided to raise the issue during the Assembly session starting from 23 November. State BJP president Laxmikant Bajpayee said, "Irrespective of whether the BSP or the SP is in power, Ponty Chadha has always been the beneficiary. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had promised that he would act against corruption, but on the contrary, he is patronising it. We are getting all the facts regarding the scam and will raise it during the Assembly session."
According to a source, the tender conditions were made difficult to keep small players away. As per the terms, the supplier was needed to deposit Rs 45 cr as earnest money to participate in the tender.