LOKAYUKTA HAS served notice to eight persons, including former Congress Mayor Madhukar Verma, in the Rs 2.2 crore electrical equipment purchase scam that rocked the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) at the fag end of 1999.
Former IMC Secretary Bansilal Joshi, Vipin Khujneri, Anil Shukla, R K Khanuja, Haji Abbas Patel, Shakil Ansari and Kulwinder Singh Gill were the others on whom notices were served.
The Mayor-in-Council headed by Verma is alleged to have sanctioned the purchase of sodium lamps, tube lights and chokes manufactured by M/s Crompton Greaves at nearly double the prevailing market rates at a time when the model code of conduct was in effect for the 2000 civic body polls.
It is also accused of siphoning money from the Slum Network Rehabilitation head to pay for the purchase even though rules forbid the funds from being spent on any other activity except those for which they are earmarked.
The scam first came to light when former corporator Parmanand Sisodia moved court against the alleged illegalities and lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta naming then Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Shukla, IMC Secretary Bansilal Joshi and Sandeep Jain, an IMC electrical supply contractor, as the chief accused.
Interestingly, Sisodia, who has since joined the Bharatiya Janshakti, later filed another petition demanding that Verma’s successor, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, also be declared co-accused in the case for clearing payments to suppliers.
The MiC cleared the purchase of electrical goods amounting to over Rs 2 crore through 22 procurement proposals each amounting to Rs 9.9 lakh in October ‘99. This, Sisodia claimed, was done as only the standing committee was authorised to okay contracts valued at more than Rs 10 lakh.
The contract was awarded to Sandeep Jain, son of an electrical equipment contractor who had virtual monopoly over IMC purchases in those days, who claimed to be an authorised Crompton Greaves dealer. A month later Jain was handed Rs 40 lakh for the equipment even though the model code of conduct had come into effect.
“The Corporation shelled out Rs 2,700 for one sodium vapour lamp which was available in the market for Rs 1,270. When Kailash Vijayvargiya came to power, I told him about the scam and urged him to take action against Municipal Commissioner Shukla. Nothing, however, came of this. I then moved the district court and submitted a receipt for a lamp I had purchased as proof and also complained to the Lokayukta. In its initial report, however, the Lokayukta absolved the accused officials.
This, however, was rejected by the court, which ordered a re-investigation. However, when the Lokayukta didn’t submit the report even after four years, I complained to the High Court and it was this that led to the notices.’’