JAMMU: Ex-Chief Engineer PMGSY Kashmir DD Gorkha, two serving Superintending Engineers (SEs) PS Sehgal and AK Gandhotra were on Tuesday arrested by the sleuths of State Vigilance Organization (SVO) in a case involving illegal allotment of contracts.
Search for the fourth accused Executive Engineer (XEN) VK Sharma is on. These three top officials of PWD have been arrested in a case wherein they had made illegal allotments of construction of bridges at exorbitant rates in Udhampur district during 2012-13. The job work was allotted at a much higher cost of Rs 92.75 lakhs than the advertised cost of Rs. 81.70 lakhs and subsequently allotted remaining works of Rs. 177.28 lakhs without calling tenders.
The construction of abutments (left & right) for 41.50 mts clear span motorable bridge on Thalora Sartari Road (at Dugee Khad) including construction of approaches was allotted at a much higher cost of Rs 92.75 lakhs than the advertised cost of Rs 81.70 lakhs in which only two contractors Ashok Kumar and Harminder Singh participated. The then Superintending Engineer PWD (R&B) Circle, Udhampur D.D.Gorkha instead of re-tendering the work, in order to ensure fair competition, allotted the work to their blue eyed contractors.
The accused, the then Superintending Engineers PS Sehgal, the then Executive Engineers K Gandhotra and VK Sharma of Udhampur division of PWD subsequently allotted remaining works of Rs 177.28 lakhs without calling tenders. However, in order to cover up their “illegal” acts, they accorded three post facto approvals for Rs 60 lakhs, Rs 42.08 lakhs and Rs 60 lakhs. Besides one additional work order of Rs. 15.20 against the said work was allotted to the same contractor.
The verification revealed that the accused officers had grossly exceeded their monetary limit. SVO verification has also revealed that the other tendered work namely dismantling of existing 41.50 mtr steel grid motorable bridge over Khu nallah on Udhampur Ramnagar road and its re-launching on Thalora Sartari road over Dugee Khad including laying of RCC bed plates and deck slab was also allotted at a higher cost of Rs 28.01 lakhs against an advertised cost of Rs 22 lakhs in which only above said blue eyed two contractors participated and work was allotted to contractor Harminder Singh by the then Executive Engineer PWD (R&B) Division Udhampur.
No rate analysis had been done by these officials to arrive at the reasonability of rates thus making all the allowed rates doubtful. Confirming this to Kashmir Life, Director Vigilance Munir Khan said “FIR 6/17 was registered against these four officials for committing and gross violations in allotment work to blue-eyed contractors. Three of the four accused have been arrested while we are on the hunt for the fourth one.” He added, “I have directed my officials to immediately clear the backlog of cases. Do whatever is required to bring a case to conclusion.”
Investigation stops when we are unable to arrest the person and bring him here so that the questions they are required to be asked could be asked, added Khan. He stressed that the department would do everything to ensure that the investigation does not stop midway. “The investigation should not stop midway. It should go on and case should be concluded within a specific time frame. Forward movement is not possible in any case until we do not have watertight cases against the individuals involved,” added Khan.
He said that more arrests are likely to be made in various pending cases in the days to come.