Post NRHM scam, PACCFED gets its first contract in Akhilesh regime

After a lull of more than a year since it figured in the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission scam during the Mayawati regime, the Processing and Construction Cooperative Federation (PACCFED) has recently received an order from the Akhilesh Yadav government for construction of 28 primary health centre buildings in various districts.

Learning from past mistakes, the agency has decided that the work, estimated to be worth Rs 42 crore, will be executed through a proper tendering process, unlike the 'work-order' procedure adopted during the previous regime for favouring politically influential contractors.

"We are also going for e-tendering and multiple points for tendering," said Ramhetu Gupta, managing director of Paccfed.

"An internal audit team has been constituted that will conduct surprise inspection of every project. "A team for quality control will check all projects," Gupta said.

Another project worth Rs 100 crore is in the pipeline. It involves construction of godowns in various districts for which funds will be given by the Co-operative Department.

Paccfed is a co-operative organisation. It is supposed to be autonomous, but is actually under the control of the Co-operative Department of the government.

Principal Secretary of Co-operative Devashish Panda said that the government is now considering making the tendering process compulsory for all construction agencies controlled by the department.

"The policy will be soon formulated and it is likely to be done through a cabinet decision," Panda said. However, pending the policy decision, the government has given clear instructions to Paccfed to adopt the tendering process for execution of projects.

In the NRHM scam, work was allotted without inviting tenders and crores were paid in advance to contractors, most of whom did not complete the work on time.

In the absence of any checks, the quality of work was bad. There was also siphoning of money. Babu Singh Kushwaha, who has since been arrested, was the co-operative minister.

The CBI, which is investigating the NRHM scam on the order of the Allahabad High Court, has chargesheeted four officials of Paccfed, including then MD V K Choudhary, Superintendent Engineer A K Srivastava, Chief Engineer M M Tripathi and Assistant Engineer Vipul Gupta, besides Kushwaha.

Ramhetu Gupta was unwilling to go into the details of that sordid chapter, but said that all pending projects were being expedited. "We are taking up the old projects on priority. Construction is on in full swing. In Lucknow one can check that we are completing the Rs 42 crore multi-storeyed complex in Lohia Institute," he said.

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