Firms making pads for Asmita scheme aren’t registered, Bombay HC told

Mumbai: Punching holes in the tall claims of the Maharashtra government, a law student has told the Bombay High Court that the state's Asmita scheme, meant for providing pads to menstruating women and girls at subsidized rates, has not been implemented in letter and spirit. The state had in August told the HC that it distributed over 1 lakh sanitary pads at minimal rates to women through NGOs and civil society activists.

The student - Nikita Gore, who had petitioned the bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta urging the court to order the state authorities to provide sanitary pads to women at cheaper rates.

The state, through the chief executive officer of the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihoods Mission (MSRLM), had claimed that the Asmita scheme has been implemented effectively, especially in rural areas.

Disputing the claims of the state, Gore in her affidavit through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, said, "Like every scheme is well planned on the paper, but it's not implemented on the ground in its true

spirit, the same way the Asmita scheme is no different."

In her affidavit, Gore pointed out that the state had roped in (through tenders) two firms - M/s Smart Hygeia Pvt Ltd and M/s Eternis Hygiene Product Pvt Ltd for manufacturing the sanitary pads.

"It is pertinent to note that only 2 vendors have been roped. I say that I searched the background of these companies from their official websites (http://smarthygeia.in/ & https://eternisgroup.com) and to my surprise, I did not find detailed information of these 2 companies, particularly regarding their registration, body of director, etc," the affidavit reads.

"I say that these 2 companies need to be registered under The Indian Companies Act 2013 and mandatorily listed with the Registrar of Companies since I did not find any details pertaining to these companies, I state that it is fair to assume that they are not private limited firms as claimed by the state and that the implementation process (of Asmita) may have not gone through the strict process of tendering," the student claimed.

The student further argued that since the tender process itself isn't implemented properly then there is no question of the scheme being operational. She further pointed out that the state has in its affidavit has claimed that neither any authority nor these two companies have installed any pad vending machines at any schools.

"On the contrary, there are vending machines installed in the Zilla Parishad schools for sanitary napkins and though I had tried to get detailed information about the vending machines, no one responsible is coming forward to give any information. These machines are lying idle in the Zilla Parishad school at Pali, Beed and most of them are not even unboxed, much less installed," the affidavit added.

"The vending machine was provided under the Asmita scheme, but there is no information given for operating the said vending machine, apart from the fact that the vending machines were never installed and lying idle," the affidavit reads further.

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