The second day of ongoing session in Tripura Legislative Assembly witnessed furore over a purported scam of Rs. 638.80 crores in the Public Works Department (PWD) from the erstwhile Left era.
The alleged scam, in which former PWD minister Badal Choudhury was summoned thrice for questioning by the Vigilance Department, is still under investigation.
Speaking in response to a Reference Period Notice moved by MLA Sudhangshu Das on clarifications regarding media reports on PWD scam in Left regime, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who is also in charge of PWD, said, “Nearly Rs. 225 crores was spent in addition to the amount approved by the state cabinet on different infrastructure development schemes in the 2008-09 financial year. The then cabinet note on the said subject and note of the then Principal Secretary don’t match. We have started a vigilance investigation after these irregularities came to our notice”.
The Chief Minister clarified that as per cabinet memo, 10 per cent cost-plus basis was approved on the estimated costs of the infrastructure development projects implemented by PWD in 2008-09. However, a separate note signed by the then Principal Secretary YP Singh mentioned 35.75 percent cost-plus basis was approved on estimated costs. This additional expenditure approval was not made by the cabinet, neither did the government know anything of it in official documents.
In the face of scathing attacks from ruling BJP legislators, opposition MLA Badal Choudhury, who served as PWD minister for four terms in the erstwhile Left era, rose to clarify his stand and said, “Infrastructure development works implemented in the Left regime were of very good quality. We are still proud of our work”.