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Kharghar toll plaza tender: HC asks ACB to hold open inquiry

The Bombay High Court asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau to hold an open inquiry within three months into the alleged irregularities in the tendering process to set up Kharghar toll plaza on Sion-Panvel highway.

A division bench of justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudesai ordered the state ACB to finish the open probe in three months, while hearing a public interest litigation of one Pravin Wategaonkar for an investigation into the alleged corruption in the tendering process for the plaza.

Wategaonkar had also demanded that the Viability Gap Fund (VGF) must not be paid to the contractor until the open inquiry was over.

The Maharashtra government told the court there was no proposal at present to pay the VGF of Rs. 390 crore to the contractor.

The bench said if the Public Works Department wanted to pay this money to the contractor, it should take courts permission.

The ACB shall hold the open inquiry (as against the confidential inquiry it holds in some cases at the preliminary stage) and file a report within three months, it added.

In November 2008, the PWD, then headed by NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, had proposed to widen the 20-km Sion-Panvel highway with a new toll plaza at Kamothe near Kharghar in the neighbouring Navi Mumbai.

A joint venture of IVRCL and Kakade Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (KIPL), Sion Panvel Tollways Ltd bagged the contract by quoting the lowest Viability Gap Fund of Rs. 390 crore.

KIPL is owned by Sanjay Kakade, now a BJP MP.

Accusing KIPL of having no experience to execute such projects, the PIL had further alleged that there had been irregularities in the tendering process.

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