The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), which has been in the records of the media in reams and reams of papers, almost for the wrong reasons, has added another feather in its dubious record. And the record also hints at a massive corruption thriving over demand draft issue. The issue concerns to no record of earnest money deposits (EMD) paid by the bidders of taxi vehicles, computer stationary and security guards.
The “demand bribe” episode got exposed by a simple but striking RTI query by an activist Subhash Ghate. The General Administration Department’s reply that the NMC has no record of EMD was enough for Subhash Ghate to lodge a strongly worded complaint with the NMC Commissioner with a demand to punish the guilty.
Sensing something amiss and armed with certain information about the wrong being committed by the concerned employees, Ghate slapped an RTI question and demanded details of the demand drafts collected from the bidders on the account of taxi vehicles, computer stationary and security guards between 2002 and 2012. Ghate revealed that the demand drafts deposited by the bidders, were in fact, never submitted to the Accounts Department of the NMC. Leave alone submission, the demand drafts were returned to the bidders, of course with a cost, and only photocopies of the demand drafts were kept in the record thus blatantly violating the laid down rules. The NMC was put at loss was another disturbing aspect. The cunning actions on the part of concerned employees clearly point out corruption taking place in great proportions, Ghate claimed and demanded a top-level investigation into the episode.
The RTI activist Subhash Ghate further threw the light on the matter and elaborated that the NMC was taking Rs 10,000 per vehicle as EMD from the bidders. The NMC approximately hires 150 vehicles per year for the use of its top officials. It means NMC collected Rs 15 lakh as EMD from the bidders. However, surprisingly, the amount was not deposited in the bank. Instead, the demand drafts were returned to the bidders in exchange of hefty bribes. The GAD did not deposit demand drafts valued at Rs 1.5 crore in the past 8 years. Similarly, the security guard agencies have been depositing Rs 20 lakh per year. Four agencies had deposited Rs 80 lakh in the form of demand drafts. These demands drafts, too, were not deposited in the NMC accounts. Same is the fate of computer stationary demand drafts since the past 10 years, claimed Ghate.
The nasty episode will take an interesting turn when the time to return the EMD to bidders would come in the near future. “The GAD is making all out efforts to save its employees and is openly saying that the Department did not have any information regarding the demand drafts submitted by the bidders. In the appeal, too, the GAD has repeated the same answer that the Department has no information about the demand drafts. Have the vanished? The guity staffers should be suspended till a detailed investigation into the episode is complete,” Ghate demanded.