Nagpur: In a significant development in the multi-crore Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) scam, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered two more first information reports (FIRs) and booked nine VIDC officials and four contractors in this connection.These officials had illegally inflated the tender cost causing a loss of over Rs 23 crore to VIDC. They had also allowed cartelization by the contractors. One officer has been booked in both cases. Last year, ACB had filed two FIRs and booked 16 for irregularities in the VIDC.
In the first case, five VIDC officials, including former executive director Devendra Shirke, had been booked for favouring a contractor in Ghodazari branch canal work, which is a part of Gosikhurd project. One of the accused is Sanjay Kholapurkar, former aide to union minister Nitin Gadkari.
In the second case, four more VIDC officials have been booked for extending undue benefits to a contractor in Nerla (Paghora) lift irrigation scheme and Pendhri branch canal, which too are a part of Gosikhurd project.
In the Ghodazari case, five officials — Shirke, Ramesh Wardhane (the then executive engineer), Gurudas Mandavkar (retired senior divisional accounts officer), Kholapurkar (the then superintending engineer) and Sopan Suryavanshi (retired chief engineer) — have been booked. Shamkant Dharmadhikari (executive vice president) and Sunil Shinde (business development head) of Hindustan Construction Company are also the accused in the case.
ACB officials said that the five accused had illegally increased the tender cost by Rs 7.81 crore. “Hindustan Construction Company had formed a ring with two more contractors to bag the contract. The deposit to be paid by these two contractors was paid by the company through its own bank account. The five officials also gave a mobilization advance to Hindustan Construction even though there was no such provision in the tender. Moreover, no such demand had been raised in the pre-bid conference,” an official
The official further said that the seven persons had been booked under Sections 420, 120 (b) and 109 of IPC and 13 (1) (d) and 13 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. “ACB has formed separate squads for raiding the residences and offices for obtaining the incriminating documents and other material and the search operation is on,” he added.
In the Nerla (Paghora) and Pendhri case, five VIDC officials — Rohidas Landge (the then executive director), Prabhakar Morghade (the then EE), Shyam Ambulkar (then SDAO), Dilip Pohekar (the then SE) and Suryavanshi (the then CE) — have been booked. The FIR also names Bollaneni Venkata Rama Rao of Srinivasa Constructions and Rama Reddy Srinivasula Reddy of Balirami Reddy & Company as accused.
“The work was awarded to the joint venture of the two companies. The five officials had illegally increased the tender cost by Rs 15.49 crore. The joint venture formed a ring with other contractors and paid their deposits through demand drafts (DDs). Even though the JV was not registered with Registrar of Companies (RoC), it was allowed to participate in the tender,” the official said.
A search operation was on till filing of the report. ACB inspector Pramod Ghonge registered both the FIRs in Sadar police station.