The state government claims the clean chit to former public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal in the Maharashtra Sadan scam was an inadvertent error by an official from the department, against home an inquiry has now been initiated.
PWD minister Chandrakant Patil clarified on Thursday that his predecessor and accused in the Maharashtra Sadan case had not been given any clean chit by the government. He said the government was of the opinion that corruption did take place while allotting the contract for building the Sadan in New Delhi and that the culprits should be punished.
“There was no question of clean chit to Bhujbal as even the department report submitted to the ACB (anti-corruption bureau) had said that the contract should have been allotted only after calling for the tenders. It has also stated that only the cabinet had the power to allot the contract which was decided by the cabinet sub-committee. There were a few sentences in the report that sounded like clean chit, but it was an inadvertent error by the officer who wrote the report.”
The officer, chief engineer Ulhas Debadwar, had admitted to the error and an inquiry had been initiated against him.
While submitting its view to the ACB last month on corruption in the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan, the PWD had given a clean chit to Bhujbal. The department had said that there was no irregularity in allotting the construction contract to M/S Chamankar. The report had proved to be embarrassing for the Fadnavis government, which had given sanction to file a charge sheet against Bhujbal in the corruption case.
“By appointing an inquiry committee of a retired IPS officer, we investigated entire episode of ‘clean chit to Bhujbal’. In our fresh report, we have told ACB that there were irregularities found in the allotment of the contract and it should investigate it in due course,” Patil added.
Responding to this, Bhujbal said Patil himself as PWD minister had cleared the draft of the reply to the questionnaire sent to the PWD by the ACB, the investigating agency in the case. “The draft had clearly stated that it will be sent to ACB only if cleared by the secretary and minister’s office and after the signature of Chandrakant Patil, it was sent to the ACB,” the NCP leader claimed. “In the reply to the questionnaire, the PWD has also admitted that the decision was taken by the Cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure, which again means that I alone should not be held responsible for the decision,” Bhujbal added.