Following media report of alleged irregularities levelled by the Word Bank in highway projects funded by it, road transport minister CP Joshi Tuesday directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to probe wrongdoing, if any, and submit a report at the earliest.
“We will take action against anyone found guilty after the probe,” Joshi told reporters.
Joshi, however, was prompt to mention that the alleged irregularities claimed by the World Bank took place between 2005 and 2008 when DMK MP TR Baalu was at the helm.
According to media report, the World Bank’s Institutional Integrity Unit has listed “fraudulent and corrupt” practices by private Indian contractors working on three national highway projects funded by it.
This included paying bribes and gifting gold coins to NHAI officials. The bank has sought a thorough investigation.
The finance ministry had written to road secretary AK Upadhyay last month to look into the allegations.
One of the contractors named by the World Bank report is Hyderabad based Progressive Construction Limited which is implementing the bank funded Lucknow- Muzaffarpur national highway project. The bank had provided $620 million for the project and had set a June 2012 deadline for its completion.
However, the company founded by K Sambasiva Rao, Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh has not come into focus for alleged malpractices for the first time. Its contract was terminated by NHAI on two earlier occasions for non-performance.
The last time the termination of PCL was revoked in March 2011, when the incumbent road minister CP Joshi was in charge.
Meanwhile, BJP on Tuesday hit out at the government for alleged irregularities in the projects and demanded that the Prime Minister clear the air on the issue and order a probe to expose “wrongdoings.”