Taking cognizance of not meeting the requirement as mentioned in the contract, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered for an FIR to be registered against seven directors of a Mumbai-based firm after the latter failed to construct four-lane road connecting Mainpuri to his home district Etawah.
The Akhilesh government has also terminated the contract with the firm — Valecha Engineering Private Limited — after the road it constructed turned out to be of “poor quality” as it couldn’t withstand the season’s first showers and withered away from several places, prompting the government to impose a penalty of over Rs 12 crore along with the order to register an FIR.
The FIR, lodged by the UP’s Public Works Department (PWD), names as many as 12 persons, seven of whom are the firm’s directors, under Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (breach of trust), 406 (forgery of documents) and 283 (danger or obstruction in public way) of the IPC.
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Akhilesh had, in September last year, similarly initiated action against several engineers and contractors involved with the construction of roads in Kannauj, the parliamentary constituency of his wife Dimple Yadav, after inspection had found the construction materials to be of “sub-standard quality”.
The work for four laning of 55-km-long stretch connecting Mainpuri to Etawah was allotted to Valecha Engineering by the PWD. The total cost of the project is nearly Rs 300 crore. The construction work started on war footing in March 2013 and was to be completed by September 2014. The deadline was revised to March 2015 when the objection from the Ministry of Environment and Forests over cutting of trees delayed the project until fresh permission were obtained.
Before long, reports about the construction’s poor quality began reaching to the CM who directed the PWD engineers to monitor the quality of the road and the timeline for its completion. At the recently-concluded Safai Mahotsav, Akhilesh himself pedaled on the road participating in a cycle marathon, and later served a warning to the construction company and the PWD officials in this regard.
When the company failed to meet the deadline and the constructed road soon withered away in the first rains, Akhilesh took strong note and ordered the FIR against the company. Executive engineer of PWD, Ashok Kannaujia, got an FIR registered at the Civil Lines police station in Etawah.
PWD officials claimed that the company did not utilise Rs 8 crore fund sanctioned for the machinery and another Rs 4 crore to be used as the mobilisation amount. The FIR alleges the firm utilised this amount elsewhere, leaving the project incomplete.
“The company failed to deliver on the 23-km-long Etawah section (construction cost of which was pegged at Rs 80 crore). They could do only 70 per cent work which withered away in rains. We have got an FIR lodged against 12 persons of the company including its directors,” Kannaujia confirmed.
He also informed that a penalty of Rs 12.07 crore has been imposed and the contract has been terminated. The persons named in the company include Anil Harish, Jagdish Chandra Valecha, Dinesh Hariram, Umesh Hariram, Gopal Krishnan, Arvind Thakker and Chaitanya Keshav — all directors in the company. Employees who were posted at the site include Sudhir Kumar Mishra (Project Manager), Jyoti Kant Raut (Deputy Project Manager), R R Dhoke (Quality Control specialist), and other officials.
Earlier in July 2013, Akhilesh had expressed his displeasure over the poor quality of the Etawah Road and had sent minister of state Surendra Patel and PWD Engineer-in-Chief Chitra Swaroop for on-site verification after which several engineers were suspended. Later, several engineers in PWD had even approached their department for not posting them to Etawah-Mainpuri section which is considered VIP district for being the home district of Yadav family.