Tuesday, May 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Scam stink from school labs?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 6
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has now been entrusted with a probe into the purchase of glassware and chemicals worth more than Rs 3.50 crore made shortly before the closing of the financial year 2001-02.

The Minister for Higher Education, Mr Khushal Bahl, is reported to have written to the Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance), Mr A.P. Pandey, seeking a time-bound inquiry into the purchase, while alerting him about yet another “scam” in the purchase of books that is being looked into by the department.

Informed sources told TNS that the basic allegations referred to the bureau in the purchase of glassware and chemicals for use in school laboratories related to rate contracts finalised by the Controller of Stores. It is stated in the letter that well-established firms offering ‘’quality articles at much lower rates’’ were ignored and instead the Controller finalised “stingingly exorbitant rates” with two “nondescript” Ambala-based firms, on March 15 and 26.

The letter lists the rates, per piece, of some of the glassware items offered by Borosil and what the Controller had finalised with Jain Scientific Glass Works, Ambala. Likewise, contract rates for chemicals were signed with Linco Scientific Improvements, Ambala, ignoring Ranbaxy, Glaxo, etc, on March 26.

For example, as against a 250 ml Borosil beaker, available at Rs 40, the Controller opted for one priced at Rs 72 from the Ambala firm. A beaker of 500 ml available for Rs 68 from Borosil was purchased for Rs 125 and a Borosil test-tube priced at Rs 6.50 was ignored and the rate contract offered to the Ambala firm was Rs 51.

The Minister’s letter says that the allegations against rate contracts smell of a scam and the same were specific and verifiable. In the questionable purchase, a huge commission to the tune of 50 per cent to 60 per cent is alleged to have been paid as per the complaint. A copy of that has also been sent to the Vigilance Bureau.

The bureau has also been forwarded a copy of the proceedings of the meeting of the purchase committee of the Education Department held on March 29. The proceedings throw light on affairs in the last days of March.


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