Mumbai, Feb 23: Maharashtra Government today approved a proposal to invite Expression of Interest (EoI) for implementing the "Take Home Ration (THR)" scheme.
The Cabinet approved the proposal under which tenders will be floated for supply of THR worth Rs 1,200 crore, official sources said.
Women and Child Welfare Department will call for an EoI to provide ration through the scheme under which breakfast and ready made lunch is to be supplied to children between 6 months to 3 years of age, those between 3 to 6 years who have lower than average weight and also pregnant housewives.
The tender process came under criticism from the Opposition which said it will remove small women self-help groups (SHGs) from competition, and alleged it favours a handful of suppliers.
According to a senior official of the Department, the Supreme Court has directed that food items for Anganwadis (government-run childcare centres) be provided through SHGs and not by private contractors.
"It is necessary to select a bidder on technical ground and not on commercial ground. Otherwise, the contractor may submit a low cost tender to grab the contract," said the cabinet note.
Meanwhile, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde said the move shows the BJP-led Government wants to prevent SHGs from bidding for the contract.
"Women and Child Welfare Department is working in favour of a few suppliers." He said the Bombay High Court has clearly said that SHGs should get the tender of supplying ration though they don't have extruder machines (food processing equipment).
"The decision will keep out SHGs, which don't have such machines, from bidding process. In such a scenario, the bid will go in favour of big suppliers," Munde claimed.