Mumbai, Mar 23: A day after senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse hinted at a scam in the contract to kill over three lakh' rats in Mantralaya, a spokesperson of his own party today said the figure was wrong. But no one, it seems, knows how many rats had made the state headquarters their home.
The 3,19,400 rats that Khadse spoke of was actually the number of poison tablets used by the private contractor to kill the rodents, said BJP MLA and spokesperson Ram Kadam. Khadse, a former revenue minister, made a startling claim that a survey found that there were 3,19,400 rats in Mantralaya, the state government's headquarters.
A private company hired to get rid of rodents claimed to have killed all of them in a mere seven days, the veteran BJP leader said in the Assembly, asking how was this possible. "Documents obtained under the Right to Information show that the contract has been signed at the rate of Rs 1.50 for killing one rat," Kadam told reporters.
The Public Works Department has clarified that 3,19,400 was not the number of rats found in Mantralaya, but the number of poison tablets used, he said. However, the BJP spokesperson could not reply when asked how many rats, then, were killed in Mantralaya. There was no clarification on this from the government either. The RTI documents obtained by BJP MLA Charan Waghmare, on which Khadse had relied, do state that 3,19,400 rats were found in Mantralaya.
The PWD cleared the payment to the contractor with a remark that the work had been completed satisfactorily, the documents show. Waghmare had written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, alleging a scam in the contract. "As per the work order dated May 9, 2016, the officers in Mantralaya have shown killing of 3,19,400 rats in two months....There is no record of which poison was used, who collected dead rats and where were they dumped....documents show two contracts have been signed, each worth Rs 2.40 lakh, with an agency named Vinayak Majoor Sahakari Sanstha, at the rate of Rs 1.50 per rat," Wahgmare's letter said.