The then suspended Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) officer SA Puranik, who retired on Tuesday, alleged that files pertaining to the grant of a bus depot’s floor space index to Adarsh housing society went missing from the BEST’s office while Uttam Khobragade was its general manager.
Khobragade’s daughter was allotted a flat in the Colaba society, which has been accused of violating environmental and construction norms. Khobragade denied any role in the Adarsh matter, adding that he did not victimise anyone.
Some papers from a file on Adarsh went missing from Mantralaya too. The Crime Branch is investigating the case.
Puranik said the tender papers for the purchase of faulty meters, for which he was blamed, went missing. Puranik accused Khobragade of framing him.
“I’m being victimised as the Russian-made meters, worth more than Rs 5 crore, were purchased after Khobragade and the BEST Committee gave permission. The tender papers contained adverse remarks made by me and the chief engineer about the meters,” said Puranik on Wednesday.
Khobragade had suspended Puranik pending inquiry.
The R Kochar Committee found Puranik guilty in 15 of the 17 counts in the case, but he is likely to go free as the BEST Committee served a show-cause notice on him only on his last day of service. HT reported the matter in Wednesday’s edition.
Puranik said nearly 5,000 faulty meters were removed from use in just a week without following the normal procedure.
“If they were faulty, they should have been tested at a state laboratory before a case was filed against me. The BEST doesn’t even have an accredited lab to test meters,” he said.
14 UDD staffers to be quizzed over missing file
Fourteen employees of the Urban Development Department (UDD) have been shortlisted by the Crime Branch for questioning in connection with the missing pages of File 154 that contained notings on the proposal for sanctions for Adarsh housing society.
There is no copy of File 154, from which four pages with notings and remarks by then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and UDD secretary Ramakant Tiwari went missing.
On Saturday, UDD Section Officer Gurudutt Madhukar Bajpe lodged a complaint with the Marine Drive police after it came to light that the notings were missing. Four pages — numbers 15, 27, 99 and 279 — of the 2003 had been torn out.
On Sunday, the investigation was transferred to the Crime Branch. Adarsh has been accused of violating environmental laws and getting defence land on the promise that houses would be built for war widows and veterans. Most of the houses were allotted to politicians, bureaucrats and military commanders.
Crime Branch sources said on condition of anonymity that the shortlisted employees belong to Desk 12 of the UDD and are responsible for the upkeep of files. Some others who worked in the UDD earlier but were transferred would also be called for questioning.
The Crime Branch already recorded the statements of two UDD staff — Ashok Patil and Vidya Dhabolkar. It is learnt that Dhabolkar, a senior clerk, gave crucial information about the movement of the file, though she claimed she never came across it during computerisation of records. The police inferred that the tampering could have been done by desk staff, perhaps on the instructions of influential people linked to the scam.
Sources said none of the files pertaining to Adarsh had an index or notesheet. All official files should contain a note sheet on the left and an index on the right on the first two pages.
This is done to avoid manipulation and make searches easy.