Agartala, Mar 10 : On the day of first anniversary of BJP-IPFT government in Tripura, the state government has lodged FIR against two retired Chief Engineers of PWD department under Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) last night accusing them of involved in over Rs 300 Cr irregularities.
The FIR lodged by Deputy Superintendent of Police of state vigilance department Jeremia Darlaong accused former Engineer In-chief Sunil Bhowmik, Chief Engineer (Roads & Buildings) Somesh Ch Das, another unknown person of PWD department and two construction companies – M/S VKS Infra Tech Management Pvt Ltd and Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd under section 13 of PCA and sections 120 (B) and 409 of IPC.
All of them were accused of large scale corruption in construction of 1.5 kilometres long flyover and a bypass bridge here between 2012 and 2018. Allegedly, the corruption was started from the tender process and at the stage of execution they have allowed flouting the safety norms and altered the original plan of work.
The construction work of the flyover was completed in early 2018 but till the date it is not opened for public use because of serious lapses in safety points. The previous left front government led by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had desperate to open the flyover before the election without complying the standard procedure.
The then opposition MLAs and present ministers Sudip Roybarman and Ratan Lal Nath had to launch series of agitations seeking safety audit of he flyover before it opens for public use. Meantime, BJP-IPFT government coming in power and both of the MLAs became minister in Biplab Kumar Deb’s government. The state government engaged three national accredited institutions including IIT Delhi and Central Road Research Institute for conducting quality of the work and safety issues.
The experts of the organisations have conducted tests and inspections separately a number of times and finally gave the reports, which has raised eye-brow of the government. According to report, the experts were not only questioned the quality of works and flouting the safety norms, also expressed concern over some critical issues like width of the flyover, expansion of curves and designs.
Based on the reports, the state government asked vigilance authority conducts an enquiry into the case. The primafeci of the allegation were established during vigilance investigation and finally, DSP Darlong lodged FIR against the persons after found them guilty in the crime. According to report, both the construction companies had to pay a huge amount of bribe and subscription to the corrupt network where as many 36 people were involved including some political personalities.
“It appears that the construction companies compromised the quality of work and mandatory safety norms in both the constructions with the direct indulgence of the then top officials of PWD and few others. It is also suspected that there was no transparency in awarding the works to the companies. The initial estimation revealed total volume of money involved in corruption was more than Rs 300 Cr,” said a top official of the government.
He also said that the utility of flyover in small city like Agartala and bypass bridge disturbing the heritage view of North gate of Ujjayanta palace had been questioned by several groups even a section of engineers in PWD. But the then Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and PWD minister Badal Choudhury were over enthusiastic for the works.
“The bypass bridge constructed in north gate area was objected because as many as four such bridges on the same stretch within two kilometres distance were unutilized even then the ministers and Engineer In-chief Bhowmik had begun the work without managing the fund and now the state government fixed with Rs 200 Cr liability for the projects,” he added.
However, police said case has been registered under non-bailable sections against them but they are not available in the addresses and added, “They will be arrested soon as police is in job.” (UNI)