Bhopal: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s attempt to completely overhaul the system of supply of supplementary nutritious food to aaganwadis has hit the roadblock. The CM wanted to handover the work to SHGs. It was after Chouhan made his intention public that an SHG moved the Indore bench of the Madhya High Pradesh High Court and obtained a stay on allotting the contracts for the fiscal year 2017-18 under the prvailing system.
Now, the HC has lifted the stay and asked the government to float fresh tenders within a period of one month. However, it is highly unlikely that SHGs would be able to win the contract.
The HC has directed that the tenders should be issued in keeping with the Supreme Court guidelines, directives of the Central Government and National Food Security Act. According to the SC guidelines, the takehome ration to be provided to the children should be produced in an automated plant.
The production process should be such that it requires no human intervention and the kids should be able to eat the takehome ration directly at their homes. But, no SHG owns such a plant. All such plants in the state are owned by companies who have formed joint ventures with the MP State Agro Industries Corporation. The HC has not barred MP Agro or these companies from bidding for the contract. This means that directly or indirectly, the contracts will go to these companies only. The SHGs will not be able to even participate in the bidding process.
The SC guidelines say that the contract should not be awarded to suppliers. However, the companies who have established plants in joint venture with MP Agro are manufacturers and not suppliers. Thus, they will face no problems in bidding for the contract. JN Kansotia, principal secretary, Woman and Child Development said that the government had received the HC order and tenders will be floated in accordance with the judgment within a period of one month. The department, thus far, was making preparations for making some interim arrangement but now it would have to go for permanent one.
Panel of ministers, officers to meet again
The committee of ministers and officers formed for the purpose will have to meet again for initiating the re-tendering process. The tenders will be floated for making permanent arrangement. The committee includes Woman and Child Development Minister Archana Chitnis, Health Minister Rustam Singh and the principal secretaries of both the departments.