Mumbai Covid-19 Body Bag Scam: Ex-Mayor Kishori Pednekar Denies Influencing Contract; 'I'm Not An Accused'

Mumbai Covid-19 Body Bag Scam: Ex-Mayor Kishori Pednekar Denies Influencing Contract; 'I'm Not An Accused'

Pednekar had earlier been summoned in the case on November 8 but did not appear before the agency at that time.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Thursday, November 23, 2023, 09:30 PM IST
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COVID-19 Body Bag Scam: ED Reissues Summons To Mumbai Ex-Mayor Kishori Pednekar | Twitter

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the probe into an alleged scam in purchase of body bags by the civic body amid the Covid-19 pandemic, an official said. Pednekar has denied “influencing the contract” in the body bag case.

According to ED sources, during more than six hours of questioning she was asked several questions in connection with money laundering allegations related to irregularities in the body bag purchase. The amount involved in the alleged fraud has been mentioned at around Rs 49.63 lakh.

Allegations against Pednekar

She was questioned about her alleged role in instructing BMC officials to award the contract to the accused company, M/s Vedanta Innotech Pvt Ltd, and suspicious involvement in alleged exorbitant cost of the body bags. She adamantly denied making any calls to BMC officials or exerting influence or pressure on any official to give the contract to the company. According to sources, she asserted that everything she did was in accordance with legal procedures and the necessary conditions.

Pednekar had earlier been summoned in the case on November 8 but did not appear before the agency at that time.

'I am not an accused'

After the 6 hours of questioning, she stated that, “I was summoned today by the agency. They had called me for an inquiry; I am not an accused, and there are no allegations against me. The agency had sought some documents, which I will submit. I am cooperating with the agency. As a mayor, I completed my responsibility, which was required at that time. The agency wanted to know the situation and details, so I shared everything with them. They have not called me back again.

According to the EOW investigation, Pendnekar, who was serving as the BMC Mayor, allegedly instructed Haridas Rathod, who was in charge of the Central Purchase Department to award the contract to M/s Vedanta Innotech Pvt Ltd.

BMC allegedly rejected body bags without any reasons

According to Rathod’s statement to EOW, the first company, Care Solution, was ready to supply body bags after negotiations at a rate of Rs 2,583 per unit. He proposed the purchase order in favour of Care Solution. However, when the company delivered the first batch of 2,000 body bags, BMC officials rejected it without giving any reasons. Subsequently, the bags were declared unfit.

According to the investigation, until June 2020 an alternative supplier had not been finalised due to various reasons. The BMC began purchasing body bags from Vedanta Innotech at a rate of Rs6,719 per unit – more than twice what it was charging other private hospitals and government authorities (Rs 2,925) during the same period.

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