The PWD action follows after the high-voltage jolt by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court with remarks that the PWD was indulging in actions to save the contractors instead of bringing them to book.
The Public Works Department (PWD), after receiving a high-voltage jolt from the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in the much debated Rs 119 crore scam, has finally blacklisted 23 contractors including Kishore Kanhere, a right hand of PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Three suppliers of construction material have also been blacklisted. Kishore Kanhere runs the company named Ankit Constructions. The 23 contractors have been issued show cause notices thus initiating actions against them. A competent authority will investigate the contractors and their works and submit his report within 3 months.
The Secretary of Public Works Department Shyamal Kumar Mukherjee filed an affidavit before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in this connection. The hearing in the case was held before the Double Bench of High Court comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Z A Haq.
After the Rs 119 crore scam in the Nagpur PWD’s Division No 1 got exposed, 23 Engineers were suspended on June 7 in 2011. However, they are receiving 75 per cent salaries without a single work. The Maharashtra Government, after considering the “looting” of exchequer by the “White Elephant” 23 Engineers, has requested the court to permit the Government to recall the suspended engineers to their duties. The High Court has given the permission but on the condition that the 23 engineers should be transferred out of Nagpur. The High Court has also ordered submission of an affidavit over investigation of roles of the engineers on January 31, 2014. The next hearing would be held on February 5, 2014.
The PWD Nagpur Division No. 1 had apprised the High Court of issuing of notices to 35 contractors during the last hearing on a PIL filed by Nagpur Contractors’ Association in this regard. A one-man Committee of PWD had found massive irregularities in the works of the 35 contractors. Moreover, the High Court, during previous hearing, had passed on remarks that PWD was also resorting to save the skins of the 35 contractors who were the part of the staggering Rs 119 crore scam.
The High Court had further observed that the PWD indulged in the “dirty deals” by issuing tenders to the contractors thus dumping the laid down Government rules, dates of tenders were extended clandestinely, one work was carried out every year as the fresh one, and now the PWD was indulging in actions to save the contractors instead of bringing them to book.
The stringent observation by the High Court was more than enough to send tremors across the PWD. The rattled Department rushed to the High Court and submitted the list of the contractors who were issued notices. The notices have informed that the Division No. 1 has found massive irregularities in their works and have directed to file their replies within 15 days why they should not be blacklisted by the PWD’s Division No. 1.
The Special Government Prosecutor Subodh Dharmadhikari informed the Court of actions being taken against the contractors and the PWD officials. However, the Double Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Z A Haq strongly objected to some words in the affidavit filed by PWD Secretary on behalf of Government. Adv Dharmadhikari, witnessing the angry posture of the Judges, immediately went into a damage control exercise and asked for the permission from the Judges to take back the affidavit.
However, the High Court expressed its concern over total inaction by the Government in such a colossal scam that would have curbed the scams of the magnitude in future.