Since senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse has smelt a rat in the Mantralaya rodent-killing contract and slammed the government by seeking an enquiry, ‘rat scam’ has brought major embarrassment for the state government.
Sensing an ambiguity, Khadse on March 22, has raised questions in the Legislative Assembly on how could the company which was given the contract to kill rats in Mantralaya or the state secretariat, accomplish the task by killing 3,19,400 rats in a mere seven days between May 3-10, 2016 while Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation took two years to kill six lakh rats.
When Afternoon Voice spoke to BJP MLA Eknath Khadse, he expressed, “BJP needs to come clean on every issue as they boast about their clean image. It is very shocking that this company killed over three lakh rats in just a few days. No one knows how these rats were counted and who did this counting job of killed rats. There is a divergence in the claim made by the company. I have demanded an inquiry, but the BJP now has come up with a new theory of rat poison.”
The scam that got exposed through the rat menace in Mantralaya, is enough a cause for BJP to lose its face being a party that always boasts about making a corruption-free government and claims to have no records of corruption in their rule! And moreover, the critic is none other than a prominent face of BJP.
M/S Vinayak Mazoor Sahkari Sanstha that got the two months-contact from the General Administration Department (GAD) headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, claimed to kill 24,000 rats on the ground floor and off these, 7000 were killed in the north side, 6000 in the south, 5000 in the west and 6000 in the east.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Dr Manisha Kayande stated, “BJP government has changed their statement many times so far. Such big issue needs a proper probe. It is an embarrassing incident for the state. Shiv Sena has also voiced against this scam. The real story must get revealed.”
Elaborating more on the contractor’s statement, Khadse framed the calculation saying, ‘45,628.57 rats were killed in a day; those 0.57 must be the new-born ones. It also means the company killed 31.68 rats every minute. Their weight was around 9,125.71 kg and every day one truck was required to take dead rats out of Mantralaya. But it is not known where they were disposed of.’
In the mean time, the state politicians have got an exclusive topic to debate on! Taking a jibe on the issue, Congress and even Shiv Sena criticised the Fadnavis government, while Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Chandrakant Patil and state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar came out in this awkward situation to defend the government stating that ‘3,19,400 is the number of poison tablets placed in ‘Mantralaya’ for the eradication of rats and not the number of rats killed.’
Congress spokesperson Hemlata Patil said, “It is a big fraud. Government should clarify exactly how many rats they have killed and how to decompose their dead bodies and also how they managed to kill such large number of rats in just seven days. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant has also written a letter to the Chief Minister regarding the same issue.”
Meanwhile, BMC has failed to kill the controversy whether the company had the permission to use the poison or was it permitted to keep the poison stock in Mantralaya! Adding fuel to the fire, Khadse further alleged that Dharma Patil, the 84-year old farmer from Dhule, had consumed the rat poison to commit suicide in the Mantralaya vicinity early this year.
On the condition of anonymity, a person working in Mantralaya canteen told Afternoon Voice, “Rat poison is dangerous! Most of the rats come here due to the grain stored and also the papers that are kept unprotected. But rat poison is a threat; moreover, dictating that all rats are dead is just not possible as the rat holes are beyond the reach of this agency.”
According to the available information, the company got paid Rs 1.5 per rat killed and the money was paid to them recently. It is now a matter of time to see if Khadse can expose more corruption right ahead of 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.