Updated: September 26, 2021 5:26:00 am
Three years after Jharkhand’s Building Construction Department had told the High Court and the Assembly that it will take action against “culprits” for “irregularities” in construction of the new High Court building, the department on Friday acted against 14 current and former government engineers.
Secretary, Building Construction Department, Sunil Kumar told The Sunday Express that they have terminated the contract of ‘Ram Kripal Singh Construction Private Limited’ from the construction project and floated a fresh tender to complete the work remaining.
Kumar said: “We have suspended eight government engineers, initiated department inquiry against three engineers and issued a show-cause (notice) to three retired engineers. The irregularities pertains to not adhering to the detailed project report submitted for construction of the High Court building and construction of certain parts of the building, which was not required.”
The latter, he explained, resulted in “expenditure in unplanned construction”.
Attempts to contact Ram Kripal Singh Constructions did not elicit response. Two cellphone numbers listed on the company website was found switched off. An on-site supervisor of the company in Begusarai, Bihar, said he did not know about the construction project in Ranchi.
The same company has also constructed the Jharkhand Stadium and the new Assembly building.
The project was initiated under the Raghubar Das government and the construction company had won the bid.
The government had initially said that an administrative approval of Rs 365 crore was given for construction of the new HC building. Later, the tender was awarded to Ram Kripal Singh Constructions for Rs 265 crore, reducing the bid by Rs 100 crore. Later, in revised estimates, the contractor increased its amount to Rs 697 crore.
However, Sunil Kumar said, “we had only given administrative approval for an additional Rs 100 crore (not 432 crore to make it Rs 697 crore). We (have) also terminated the contract of Ram Kripal Singh Constructions. We floated another tender for completion of the remaining work; the bidding process for that ended on September 24.”
Last year, the Hemant Soren government launched a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau to look into alleged financial irregularities in construction of both the Assembly building and the ongoing work of Jharkhand HC’s new building.
In 2018, under the then BJP-led government, Arup Chatterjee, the MLA from Nirsa, had asked in the House whether the revised technical approval amount for the construction of new HC building was Rs 697 crore. As per Assembly records, the Building Construction Department replied in affirmative.
The department stated in its reply: “This was according to the directions given at higher level and for the entire construction of the building including completion of many works like Internal Road and Landscaping, Guest House, Video Conferencing, WiFi, Campus Electrification/Illumination, Dispensary, Watch Tower, Barrack and Interior works among others…we have sent revised estimates for approval (administrative).”
The MLA had also asked whether a five-member committee had investigated the matter and found financial irregularity, to which the Building Construction Department had replied: “Partially Correct. The committee had flagged procedural errors and breach of financial discipline and a proposal was put up…(to act against the culprits). Also, a PIL was filed in the High Court and upon the Court’s directions, an affidavit had been filed by the department stating that they would take action.”