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Ex-babu accused of favouring Rajus

The man who built India’s first expressway between Mumbai-Pune is in trouble over his links with scam-hit Satyam Computers. Pradip Kumar Maitra and Dharmendra Jore report.

business Updated: Jan 14, 2009 01:12 IST

The man who built India’s first expressway between Mumbai-Pune is in trouble over his links with scam-hit Satyam Computers. Retired bureaucrat R.C. Sinha, who currently heads a state government undertaking, has distanced himself from the now infamous Raju family and their company Maytas Infra that he simultaneously headed as chairman until early this month.

The officer is accused of selling land to Satyam in Nagpur’s air cargo hub, the project Sinha is now developing on government’s behalf, at a throwaway price.

Eyebrows were raised when Sinha, 70, quit Maytas the day Satyam’s ex-chairman Ramalinga Raju admitted to rigging the company’s finances. Critics say Raju might have diverted some of this money to Maytas, which is run by his son Teja Raju.

Sinha said he “did not notice anything wrong with the company (Maytas) when I joined it as non-executive chairman in 2007.”

Sinha was at the helm when MIHAN allotted 130 acres of land to Satyam in the Multimodal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), the facility of which Sinha has been in charge as vice-chairman and managing director of Maharashtra Airport Development Co. Ltd (MADC). Many think the price of Rs 18 lakh per acre that MIHAN charged was below than the then market price of around Rs 80-lakh per acre.

The Congress corporator and Opposition leader in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), Praful Gudadhe-Patil demanded stern action against Sinha. The president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti Kishore Tiwari demanded inquiry by the CBI. “Sinha not only offered special benefits Satyam but to other real estate companies like DLF and a local company Mantri. Sinha has been holding charge of chairman or director of many companies having projects in MIHAN,” Tiwari told HT.

Rejecting the charges, he said: “I’m open to any inquiry. In fact, I persuaded Satyam to invest in Nagpur in 2005. I joined Maytas in October 2007.”

“Charges against me are politically motivated,” said Sinha, whose current position is in the rank of an additional chief secretary.

“There was no conflict of interest in my heading MIHAN and also being chairman of Maytas or other companies,” he said. “I don’t need any permission from Maharashtra Government to be on other companies because I had specifically laid down a condition after retiring from IAS that I would be free to join any other organisation as long as it did not clash with MADC."