Monday, September 27, 2021
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ACB lacking in corruption case against Bhujbals

Sameer Bhujbal, former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s nephew and a former Member of Parliament was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the multi-crore Maharashtra Sadan construction scam. Former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal has already gone through inquiry and somewhere he will come clean as the Anti-Corruption Bureau filed an FIR against him in connection with Maharashtra Sadan scam. Bhujbal was Public Works Department minister in the previous Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra. The FIR names him, his son Pankaj, nephew Sameer and 14 others. The case relates to awarding of contract for construction of new building of Maharashtra Sadan, the state government’s guest house in New Delhi. In all these FIRs, real big fishes are missing.

The other accused named in the FIR are Arun Deodhar, Devdutt Marathe, Bipin Sankhe, Krishna Chamankar, Pranita Chamankar, Tanvir Sheikh, Sanjay Joshi, Manik Shaha, Deepak Deshpande, Anil Kumar Gaikwad, Pravina Chamankar, Prasanna Chamankar, Iram Tanvir Sheikh and Geeta Joshi. Following a complaint lodged by Aam Aadmi Party leader Anjali Damania, state ACB had initiated a probe against the Bhujbals. Damania had alleged that there had been rampant corruption and large-scale irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan.

As per allegation, the Public Works Department, under Bhujbal, awarded sub-contracts to firms in blatant violation of rules. All these firms were floated or controlled by the members of the Bhujbal family. In April 2015, the Bombay High Court had observed that there was prima facie evidence and ACB can register an FIR if a case of corruption was made out. The new Maharashtra Sadan was built at the cost of Rs. 100 crore when Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.

I am stating some of my findings here, and also curious to know why those big names are not included in the FIR, those were actual culprits in the entire scam? Who is shielding them?

If you go by the FIR – as ACB says – collector’s permission was not sought. However, in public private projects (ppp) all approvals from proposal stage to tender stage are in accordance by infrastructural committee of the cabinet. This committee is headed by the Chief Minister along with ministers/chief secretary and various secretaries. When this proposal was approved by INFRA committee, then where does the question of collector’s permission arises?

ACB says super built-up area was considered while calculating probable income of developer in feasibility report which benefited India Bulls.

Basically, feasibility report is based on estimated assumptions by the officers of the department who has some logic along with rules and experience. Feasibility reports are initial estimation of the project.

Developer is appointed after the completion of bidding and according to the tender received. So, here keeping any developer in sight or mind at the time of feasibility report doesn’t exist. I think ACB’s understanding is weak or they were not guided properly and working in pressure.

Furthermore, “super built up concept” is not based on any government rules or regulations or any specific guidelines. In the past too chief architect was instructed to add super built up area of (25% to 35%) on and above actual built up area to calculate the probable earning of the developer, so in some of projects PWD department followed it.

Later on, while submitting latest feasibility report of Kalina project, it was noticed that government was very aggressive on ‘super built up concept’. The government passed the rule that builders should be put behind bars for 3 years if found adding super built up area on actual built up area. Even during public accounts committee meetings, such issues were never discussed or solved, may be because super built up area as per rules were not an issue.

One of the PWD’s officer told me that Maharashtra Government has lost about 50 crores on account of non-considering ‘super built up  area’, which is not only baseless but against the law.

ACB points out that tender papers were approved by changing technical criteria.

Now let me explain, for drafting tender papers for approval chief engineers are fully competent authority, he can make any change in the criteria etc. This DTP (Draft Tender Paper) goes to chief engineer for approval, so even in this Kalina case the draft of tender was read and approved by then chief engineer Mr. S B Tamsekar.

DTP (Draft Tender Paper) was approved by Tamsekar, after receipt of “India Bulls” tender which was found much more beneficial for the government. That tender was recommended by Tamsekar to the government for acceptance, but this Chief Engineer Mr. S B Tamsekar’s name is missing in the FIR, why? Is ACB trying to act against only OBC candidates?

The said “India Bulls” tender was processed by G M Kandhare, secretary to INFRA Committee but even his name is not included in FIR, why?

Those who process tenders are not mentioned in the FIR but on account of not considering ‘super built up area’ in feasibility report, three officers names are mentioned in the FIR. Out of three, one is bedridden and about to leave this world and other two worked on the instructions of mentioned names and ministers. What ACB is trying to prove?

Moreover, feasibility report is internal document which is not known to prospective developer. His role comes after open tendering, till then all these details remains inside the department. Moreover, feasibility document is not to calculate losses or profits etc. Once bid is received through competitive bidding with wide publicity, question of loss/profit is decided.

To conclude, here are some points:

  • ACB’s too much affection and favouritism for super built up is illegal. No government rules/ regulations are against it.
  • ACB’s insistence for highest property rules – there is no government rules and regulations.
  • ACB questioning and alleging chief engineers’ competency to approve DTP but not including Chief Engineers name in the FIR, this shows biasness.
  • ACB also missed the name of Secretary Mr. G M Khandekar, who has processed the tender.
  • India Bulls’s sister concern company has given Rs. 2.50 cr to Bhujbal Foundation. Interestingly, the firm has not been questioned or accused anywhere.
  • ACB needs to know, that the tender papers were purchased by 11 developers but only four were submitted, they should have investigated why 7 developers didn’t submitted the bid.
  • Sub engineer who was neither involved in preparing nor approving, was suspended, is just eyewash to divert the attention from the big fish involved, why?
Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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