INVESTIGATIONS INTO the alleged irregularities in awarding the tender for the Balganga Dam project to FA Enterprises, which is under the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) scanner, have revealed that a crucial certificate that the contractors needed from the Public Works Department (PWD) to get the tender was issued on the basis of forged paperwork.
The certificate was issued while senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal was the PWD minister. Bhujbal is already facing action in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Maharashtra Sadan construction and other projects in the state.
On Wednesday, the state ACB registered a second FIR in connection with the alleged irregularities in the awarding of the Balganga Dam project to FA Enterprises, owned by the Khatri family.
The FIR names five members of the Khatri family, as well as a former executive engineer with the PWD as accused, and charges them for cheating and forgery.
“As per government rules, no contractor can receive more than three contracts from the Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) at a time. However, FA Constructions had six ongoing projects. In order to be eligible to get the Balganga Dam project, Fateh Khatri, Jaitun Khatri and Nisar Khatri, who were partners in the firm, set up a second firm named FA Enterprises. They needed a Class 1A certificate from the PWD that all new companies need to gain eligibility to bid. FA Enterprises obtained the certificate through forged paperwork,” said an ACB official.
The ACB’s FIR states that the three partners falsely represented themselves as having retired from FA Constructions while still being partners in the firm and that the machinery that was shown as owned by FA Enterprises was actually owned by FA Constructions.
Officials said that the forged paperwork was submitted to Anil Gaikwad, the then executive engineer with the PWD who allegedly facilitated the issuance of the certificate.
Further investigations have also hinted at a cover-up. When the ACB for the file pertaining to the issuance of the certificate to FA Enterprises, PWD responded by saying that it was stored in the PWD office in Kurla as the Mantralaya was being restored at the time.
However, the ACB’s independent inquiries have established that the file have gone missing after the restoration work was complete.
“Gaikwad alone could not have facilitated the issuing of the certificate as well as the subsequent cover up, and the possibility of the association of higher ranking bureaucrats, including those at ministerial level, is being investigated,” a senior officer told The Indian Express.
The FIR also lists “Mantralaya staff responsible for maintenance of files” as co-accused in the case, although no one has been named as yet.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines