Sewing machine purchase scam: Congress corporator Sarah Akram seeks detailed ACB probe into the matter

More than a year after massive irregularities surfaced in the purchase of sewing machines by the women and child welfare committee in the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC), the Thane unit of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) called upon the complainant to register her say and submit relevant documents for further investigations into the matter.

The action followed in response to Congress corporator Sarah Akram’s demand, seeking a detailed ACB probe into the matter via an official complaint by her in December, last year. To make women financially self-reliant, the committee had given a nod to purchase 170 sewing machines. The tender procurement process was followed, but surprisingly these automatic sewing machines, which are available in the retail market for Rs 6,800 (per unit), were purchased in bulk at the rate of Rs 11,600 (per unit). Moreover, the finalised purchase price was also much higher than the printed maximum retail price amounting Rs 9,850. “The entire procurement process was transparent and done via the government portal. Following allegations, an internal probe was conducted in which no anomalies were found,” clarified Deputy Municipal Commissioner Dr Sambhaji Panpatte.

“It’s a shame that these people are eating into funds meant for the welfare of the poor and underprivileged. Apart from inflated bills, clarity eludes the list of beneficiaries. The internal enquiry was nothing but a farce. I have given my statement to the ACB on Tuesday,” said Akram, who claims to have submitted relevant evidence to prove her point.

According to the ACB, it was a primary verification of the complaint and further action will follow in accordance with the rules and a nod from the competent authority. Notably, Shiv Sena corporator Kusum Gupta had also demanded action against those who were responsible for creating a dent in the civic treasury by facilitating extra benefits for the supplier in exchange of kickbacks. The erstwhile municipal commissioner had issued show cause notices to officials handling the committee and to members of the tender panel, which has also come under the scanner of investigations.

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