Congress councillors smell big scam in MC's aquarium project | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Congress councillors smell big scam in MC's aquarium project

punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2012 20:23 IST
Rajeev Bhaskar

A couple of days after the signing the agreement with a Philippines company to construct the state-of-the-art aquarium and food park on municipal corporation land, the project has courted controversies, as opposition Congress alleged a "big scam" even as MC mayor termed the charge "politically motivated".

About half a dozen Congress councillors on Friday accused mayor Rakesh Rathour and municipal corporation commissioner Vinay Bublani for indulging in malpractices for clearing the fish aquarium project in haste.

"Where was the need to clear and sign the agreement with a private company in such haste, when newly-elected councillors are still to take oath in the new House," three-time Congress councillor Rajinder Beri told Hindustan Times.

Moreover, who gave the authority to the outgoing mayor to sign the agreement on the project, which was never brought to the MC House for clearance, said Beri.

MC land of over one acre and worth about Rs 40 crore was given on lease of 45 years to the private company at a throwaway price of just Rs 11 lakh per acre, he charged.

"Congress councillors will oppose the deal tooth and nail in the upcoming session of MC and if needed approach the high court to demand scrapping of the project," leader of opposition in the corporation, Jagdish Raja, said.

The project could have been initiated by the corporation itself to explore revenue generation opportunities, Raja said.

When contacted, the mayor denied all allegations and maintained that the deal was very much in the interest of the corporation.

Regarding allegation of not taking the MC House into confidence before inking the deal with a foreign company, the mayor ruled it out and said the food park project was duly approved but no bidder came forward despite calling of expression of interests four times.

Finally, a consultant was hired who roped in a Philippines company that would invest Rs 30 crore in the project and also pay an annual lease of Rs 11 lakh to the corporation, the mayor said.

The project was discussed threadbare in a meeting of the finance & contracts committee before its approval and finally got the mandatory nod from the state government, he added.