Jharkhand MLAs want police case against mobile-phone maker

The JVM's Pradeep Yadav said 5,400 handsets bought for anganwadi workers had defects from the day they were unboxed in 2017

By Our Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 1.02.19, 1:33 AM
  • Updated 1.02.19, 1:33 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Food and civil supplies minister Saryu Roy takes part in a debate at the Assembly in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

Across party lines, members of the House on Thursday demanded the government lodge an FIR against a mobile handset company for supplying defective phones worth Rs 3 crore about two years ago under the central government’s integrated child development programme.

The issue, raised by the outspoken JVM MLA Pradeep Yadav, soon became a talking point among BJP MLAs, including chief minister Raghubar Das and women and state child development minister Louise Marandi, who discussed actions to be taken against the company.

Yadav said 5,400 mobile handsets were procured for distribution among anganwadi workers of seven districts — Dumka, Latehar, Palamau, Chatra, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan — with high malnutrition among children. “The phones that arrived were found defective. The government must blacklist this company and lodge an FIR to send a strong message among suppliers so that in future nobody dares to cheat us,” said Yadav.

Minister Marandi replied that these mobile phones were supplied under a central government scheme and the state government was a mere recipient. “We will write to the Centre to apprise them of the situation. We’ve also asked the company concerned to replace all defunct sets and said if not, legal action will be taken.”

Backing Yadav, BJP MLA Radhakrishna Kishore interjected, saying replacement was “no solution”. “These phones were procured for a special purpose (effective child nutrition mission). The company gave bad phones due to which Jharkhand’s project suffered. The company must compensate the loss.”

Speaker Dinesh Oraon asked the government to tell the House about steps taken against the company. Intervening in the debate, chief minister Das said the state government repeated his minister Marandi’s assurance that he would inform the central government to take strong action against the company.

Yadav then moved on to the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, doubting its success in Jharkhand. He quoted a media report that claimed that out of a total 20,93,109 beneficiary families, 80 per cent did not refill the gas cylinder the second time owing to poverty. “Does the government have any plan to make the scheme successful?” he enquired.

In reply, minister of food civil supplies and consumer affairs Saryu Roy contradicted the media report and claimed that the Ujjwala scheme had succeeded in Jharkhand. “Only in 20 per cent of cases it had been found that beneficiaries did not procure the LPG cylinder the second time,” he said. “Also, the number of beneficiaries in Jharkhand is 26,28,976 (not 20,93,109),” Roy asserted, adding that the government intended to bring another 14 lakh families under the Ujjwala scheme. He added, “I will submit a detailed report during the running session of the Assembly of the percentage of families that have not refilled cylinders the second time.”

BJP’s Jamua MLA Kedar Hajra demanded a Scheduled Caste hostel in Giridih district.

Marandi, who also holds social welfare portfolio, replied that the government could think of a hostel if such a proposal was mooted by the district administration. The minister said a 500-bed hostel for SC students would be built in Ranchi for which land had been identified.