Jharkhand officials pilfer bitumen, face CBI probe
First Bihar and now it’s Jharkhand. Bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum residue used for building roads, seems to attract the corrupt in Jharkhand as it did in parent Bihar.india Updated: Oct 11, 2009 23:50 IST
First Bihar and now it’s Jharkhand.
Bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum residue used for building roads, seems to attract the corrupt in Jharkhand as it did in parent Bihar — where bureaucrats and politicians, including a former PWD Minister and a leader of Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Illiyas Hussain, are being tried on similar charges.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), after nearly three months of investigations into the scam following a direction from Jharkhand High Court, has found credible evidence that the officials allegedly indulged in fraudulent withdrawal of money from the treasury and connived with contractors to cause losses to the state exchequer.
The materials used for road construction in most places in the state did not match the prescribed quality, said a CBI official who did not want to be named, adding the engineers released funds against fake bills submitted by contractors.
Jharkhand state government engineers connived with contractors to pilfer bitumen worth several crores and used poor quality substitutes for building roads in the state, the official said. “We have decided to soon register cases against the officials and contractors on charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy and causing losses to the state exchequer,” he said.
The Jharkhand High Court ordered the CBI to probe the scam while hearing a public interest litigation alleging a bitumen scam of over Rs 100 crore on June 30.
Earlier in 2007, the scam first surfaced and the case was handled by the state vigilance department.
Although N N Sinha, secretary in the road construction department, refused to comment on the issue since the CBI had taken up the case on the high court’s order, Suresh Prasad, executive engineer, national highways, said: “The Rural Engineering Organisation (REO) and Road Construction Department (RCD) of the state government feature in the scam.”
In 2007, when the scam surfaced, the vigilance department found that over 1,900 fake bills were allegedly submitted to withdraw money from the treasury for building roads.
(With inputs from B Vijay Murty in Jamshedpur)