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ACB seeks government nod for open probe in Kharghar toll scam

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau told Bombay High Court that it has sought permission from the state government to conduct an open inquiry into alleged corruption in the tendering process of Kharghar toll collection centre on Sion-Panvel highway.

The ACB filed an affidavit in the high court in response to a public interest litigation filed by activist Pravin Wategaonkar, alleging bias and breach of rules in the tender process.

Wategaonkar had sought direction to ACB to look into the alleged scam.

The high court had last month directed the ACB to look into the case and file an affidavit.

The ACB, in its affidavit filed today, said it has already conducted preliminary inquiry into the allegations last year and has sought permission from the state government to conduct an open inquiry in the case.

According to the affidavit, in September last year, the agency sent a letter to the state Home department seeking permission to conduct an open inquiry.

“In November last year, the state Public Works Department sent a letter to the ACB along with information regarding the tendering process and toll collection decision taken by the government for Sion-Panvel highway,” said the affidavit filed by Bhagwat Sonawane, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB.

“In December 2016, the agency sent another letter to the Additional Chief Secretary Home department reminding him about the permission to conduct open inquiry,” the affidavit said, adding that a reply is awaited from the government.

“The construction of the highway, the toll collection and so on are connected with the state PWD, MSRDC and other private and government agencies. Also, the process of tendering, construction and so on involved highly technical issues, hence an open inquiry is necessary before appropriate action is taken against persons involved, if any,” the ACB said.

A division bench headed by Justice R V More is likely to hear the petition on February 10.

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