iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 13, 2013
Bhartiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya has alleged that nearly 12 Public Works Department (PWD) engineers floated front companies in the names of their immediate family to bag multi-crore contracts offered by the department. Somaiya submitted this list of engineers to the state chief secretary JK Banthia on Sunday, and demanded a probe by a special investigation team.

Somaiya alleged that the PWD engineers — of ranks ranging between chief engineers to deputy engineers from across the state — floated companies in the names of their wives, sons or daughters to bag government contracts. This list includes name of a chief engineer of the Nashik division who floated a company in the name of his wife.

“I have submitted the list of engineers to the anti corruption bureau and demanded a thorough inquiry. Government contracts were awarded to companies promoted by wives, sons and daughters of the engineers,” he said.

In the list submitted by the leader, there are three engineers from Aurangabad, two from Pune, and one each from Parbhani, Nagpur and Jalna. The companies floated by them in the names of family members were allegedly given PWD contracts amounting to crores of rupees. However, so far, Somaiya has not submitted any documents to show what contracts were given to these firms, or any other documents to support his allegations.

PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal rubbished the claim and said he was ready to conduct inquiry into the allegations. “I have directed the secretary of the department to examine the facts in the allegations. We will conduct an inquiry if the list is submitted to us,” he told HT.

Bhujbal did question whether there was anything wrong in allotting a contract to a company owned by a relative of the officer of the department. “There are 9,000 engineers working in my department. I am not aware about the provisions in the law, but is it a crime for relatives of the officers to form a company and do business? Even relatives of elected representatives bag government contracts,” he said.

“I agree that it would be wrong if these companies are favoured over others. If there has been violation of norms while handing out contracts, we will definitely take stern action,” he added.

The PWD has already been under scanner recently after ACB officials arrested Satish Chikhlikar and Jagdish Wagh of the Nashik division for bribery. Somaiya had then alleged that Chikhlikar’s money was a result of kickbacks in clearing PWD bills. He has also filed a petition in the high court against Bhujbal over the Maharashtra Sadan controversy.