6 WB projects being probed | india | Hindustan Times
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6 WB projects being probed

Investigative agencies are currently probing at least six World Bank-assisted projects in the country that are possibly seeped in corruption.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 01:19 IST

Investigative agencies are currently probing at least six World Bank-assisted projects in the country that are possibly seeped in corruption.

According to the Finance Ministry sources, a string of agencies, including CBI and Enforcement Directorate, are investigating the alleged “fraudulent practices” in these projects.

It is learnt that sleuths from World Bank Institute of Institutional Integrity have also been roped into the probe which is apparently trying to unravel the nexus between companies which seek work and supply contracts and officials in the concerned ministries at the Centre and states.

While 53 development projects valued at US$ 11.9 billion are being implemented by the Union government with World Bank assistance, the six projects are being subjected to scrutiny on specific information relating to possible fraud, leakage of funds and violation of standard bidding norms.

Investigators involved in the probe did not rule out the possibility of involvement of World Bank officials in the ‘leakage of funds’, an expression used for corrupt deals. In the next three months, the corrupt officials and companies involved would be pinned down, said a source on the condition of anonymity.

The projects being probed are under the ministries of health, transport and power and other core social and physical infrastructure areas. According to sources, top bosses of some PSUs in the energy sector have also come under scrutiny.

The investigations come in the wake of the government’s announcement that US $1 billion funding for health projects has been put on hold following allegations of corruption and fraudulent practices in the World Bank-assisted projects.

The first case of bungling came to light in the reproductive and child health (RCH) programme where companies that allegedly connived with government and World Bank officials apparently supplied substandard drugs.

Following this, the phase two of RCH to be funded by the World Bank was postponed. The funding for national tuberculosis control project and Karnataka Health Systems Project has also been put on hold.

Second major case of bungling came to fore in the Mumbai Urban Transport Project in which the World Bank suspended the $150 million assistance midway.

It is learnt that India has been placed on par with Kenya, Congo, Indonesia and Chad in terms of ‘corruption levels’ in the World Bank-assisted projects.

Sources said that at least half a dozen investigators from the bank’s Institute of Institutional Integrity have visited India to ferret out information relating to bungling in projects.

Sources said that they had also shared their findings with the Indian government.