A month after Hindustan Times first highlighted the Capital’s pothole scam with a hard-hitting campaign, the Delhi High Court has sought a report from the government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on action taken against errant engineers.
On August 10, Hindustan Times had highlighted how lucrative it was for corrupt MCD engineers who colluded with contractors to keep roads in bad shape.
After recent FIRs against four MCD engineers, the noose now tightens around contractors. They are making a beeline before the High Court seeking anticipatory bail. “The state shall contact the Commissioner of MCD to find out in how many cases the MCD has taken suo motu action (on its own) with regard to such construction of unworthy roads with the use of substandard material. The status report to be placed before the court on November 21, 2008,” said Justice Kailash Gambhir.
The court order came during the hearing of an anticipatory bail application filed by a contractor, Rakesh Tyagi, against whom an FIR has already been filed. The court has, however, restrained the police from arresting Tyagi till November 21.
“It is a daily experience of Delhites that roads are not worthy of use. Many accidents take place only on account of the sub-standard material used by the contractors and the same is done in active connivance and collusion with the engineering staff concerned of the MCD and other agencies,” the judge said upholding State Public Prosecutor Pawan Sharma’s argument that courts cannot be lenient while dealing with such corruption cases.
The FIR against Tyagi was filed at the instance of an RWA in Old Rajinder Nagar in South Delhi.
Taking stern view of the charges against Tyagi, the court asked the government to find the number of other contracts awarded to him.
“If some contractors have been awarded in the past three years, then the samples of such roads be tested from the government laboratory concerned,” Justice Gambhir said.
The anti-corruption bureau has already arrested three MCD engineers in connection with construction of sub-standard road in Old Rajinder Nagar and termed “it may just be the tip of an iceberg. They say 15 more engineers are on their radar.
Many engineers of the civic agency have already taken anticipatory bail fearing arrest. Now the police have turned their heat on the contractors.
For example, in one year, a 1.5-kilometre stretch on Sewa Dham Road in East Delhi has undergone eight rounds of repair. The MCD spent Rs 25 lakh to lay the road and Rs 40 lakh on repairs. The dense-carpeted road that opened in June 2007 was designed to last five years.