TWO days after cash and valuables worth more than Rs 20 crore were recovered from the residence of a sub-assistant engineer of the erstwhile Bally municipality, officers of the state police’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) raided the house of the official’s colleague on Saturday night. This time, however, no cash or valuables were recovered.
On August 14, ACB had recovered cash worth Rs 20.07 crore, bank and post office deposit certificates of Rs 58 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 14 lakh from the house of Pranab Adhikary. Following the raid, Pranab and his son Tanmay were arrested. An employee with the Bally municipality since 1995, Adhikary drew a salary of Rs 45,000 and had earned a reputation of being the one who would pass any building plan if he was paid for it.
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The cash was stacked in one room, an unused bathroom and the verandah of Adhikary’s residence at Naskarpara Road in Howrah district’s Ghusuri. Officials said cash was also unearthed from the tiled floors of the room and verandah.
Following this, on Saturday, ACB officers raided the house of Basu Dev Das, another sub-assistant engineer of the civic body, residing at Bardhan Pally in Howrah’s Belur area. “No cash or valuables were recovered from Das’ place but we have seized some important documents,” said a senior ACB officer.
“I have heard that police have recovered crores from Pranab and wasn’t surprised when they came to my place as I was in the same department. I cooperated with them. They found nothing objectionable from my house,” Das said.
Sources in ACB said more civic officials were involved in the scam. “Though Pranab used to take bribes, but most of the money recovered belonged to others. He kept the cash with him. A person was hired to keep an account of what belonged to whom and at regular intervals, cash used to be shifted to other houses,” the ACB official said, adding that they were in the process of getting details of Adhikary’s five bank accounts.
Adhikary was arrested following a complaint by a builder, A P Singh, who had claimed that the civic official wanted a bribe to pass a building plan in spite of all documents being in place. Singh had also alleged that former chairman of Bally municipality, Arunava Lahiri, was involved in the scam. “When I complained to him, he told me Adhikary would have to be paid a certain sum if the building was to be built,” Singh claimed.
When contacted, Lahiri brushed aside all allegations. “The claims are politically motivated. I don’t know why he is saying such things. I have nothing to do with any corrupt practice.”
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress workers on Sunday held demonstrations in front of the houses of CPM leader and former chairman of Bally municipality Arunava Lahiri and former party MLA Kanika Ganguly for their alleged connivance with Adhikary.
The erstwhile Bally municipality is now part of the Howrah Municipal Corporation.