Laxman Rambhau Damse,the suspended deputy commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC),whose complaint led to the arrest of Urban Development Department (UDD) under secretary Anand Jivane earlier this month,was himself probed by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly pocketing Rs. 10 lakh allotted for the construction of a toilet block in 2004.
Sources said Damses previous brush with the ACB came to light when the file was sent to the office of the Principal Secretary,Urban Development Department recently,after Jiavnes arrest. Jivane was trapped by the ACB on October 4 for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh to reinstate Damse.
The ACB had moved a proposal seeking government sanction to prosecute Damse and three others. Ironically,the proposal reached Jivane on June 29 this year.
As per ACB records,Rs. 10 lakh had been allotted in the 2004-05 budget of PMC for the construction of a 20-seat toilet block behind Anjuman Juma Masjid in Punes Vishranthwadi locality.
Damse,then a deputy engineer in the slums department of PMC and two of his juniors,assistant engineer Pradip Naik and junior engineer Ajay Wayse had been tasked with surveying the spot and issuing tenders.
Naik and Wayse surveyed the place and presented the budget estimate to Damses boss,Anil Gaikwad,who was deputy municipal commissioner. After the tender was floated,it was awarded to a contractor,Mohammad Sadiq Gafoor. He was tasked with completing construction in 20 days, said an ACB officer.
However,Naik and Wayse drew up a cheque for Gafoor even before the work was completed,the ACB said. The cheque was signed by Damse on behalf of PMC. We received complaints as payment was being made for work that had not been done and investigated the matter, the officer said.
In 2007,an FIR was registered against all four persons by ACB at Deccan Gymkhana police station. Pune. All four have been charged with criminal conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In May last year,Damse,who was then posted in the markets department,was suspended after an MLA raised the alleged lapse in issuing tenders for the repair of markets,during a session of the state assembly.
The ACB said the MLA wrote to the PMC commissioner on May 20,demanding action against Damse. He and four of his juniors were later suspended pending an inquiry. Damses alleged lapses were looked into by a retired Sessions Court judge,who gave him a clean chit in May this year. Damse then took his file to Jivane to be reinstated to the department.
SRINATH RAO & SANDEEP ASHAR