Officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) in Ulhasnagar generated bogus bills to siphon off Rs 72 lakh over two years, a government contractor says he has discovered.
The bills were for works for the Ulhasnagar police that the contractor says were never carried out.
Sanjay Pawar, an authorised contractor of the PWD in Ulhasnagar since the past 20 years, used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find a particular work was shown by PWD officials to have been done multiple times on the same police structure in two successive financial years to keep generating bills worth lakhs.
The RTI reply to Pawar said the PWD had spent Rs 72 lakh to repair and renovate two police stations 18 times, the police barracks 18 times and the DCP office on two occasions over a period of two years.
Pawar, a resident of Khadakpada in Kalyan, said he saw a lot of corruption in the PWD while undertaking works for it and decided to expose it. In January, he demanded information about all the repair and renovation works done by department in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Pawar said the PWD was extremely reluctant to part with the information and he was made to run from pillar to post for seven months, but he doggedly pursued the matter till the department was forced to provide him the information he had sought.
“On receiving the information, I was shocked to see that the department had provided details of works which had never been done,” he said. “The department has caused financial losses to the state government to the tune of a crore over the years.”
According to the information provided under the RTI (copy with MiD DAY), in 2010-2011 the department claimed to have repaired the cement roofing at the Central police station three times at a total cost of Rs 14.45 lakh while repairing doors, windows and flooring once at a cost of Rs 4.95 lakh.
The next year, in 2011-2012, the department claimed it again repaired the cement roofing three times at the same police station, repaired or replaced its doors, windows and flooring three times and did some plastering once. The total cost of all these works was shown to be Rs 8.95 lakh.
Senior Inspector Mahadev Pimpalkar of the Central police station said he could not remember anything about the works.
“I don’t remember anything about PWD work in my police station,” Pimpalkar said. “This is a departmental matter. I can’t comment more on this issue.”
The PWD claimed it had repaired the barracks at the police lines in Ulhasnagar-1 no less than 18 times, for which a bill of Rs 32.95 lakh was generated.
People living in police lines said they could not remember any repairs there for over a decade.
Swapanil Ashok Garge, Datta Pramod Jadhav, Somnath Prakash Sapkale, Nitin Pandharinath, Solankhe and Nadeem Hasan Tadavi, all of them sons of police officials, said the last repairs in police lines were done 15 years ago.
The department also claimed it repaired the DCP office in 2010-2011 and again in 2011-2012 and issued bills totalling Rs 3.10 lakh, but people working at the DCP office could not recall these works in this period.
“I have been working here for several years, and all I can remember is that three years ago (2009) the PWD had done some small works,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
The PWD claimed that in 2011-2012, it repaired Ulhasnagar-1 police station seven times and the office of two assistant commissioners of police — one for traffic and the other for city — three times at a total cost of Rs 7.75 lakh.
Senior Inspector Siddharth Wagh of the Ulhasnagar-1 police station did not respond to calls despite repeated attempts.
Pawar said he had worked closely with the PWD for years and so knew that the works cited were never done at the police stations.
No response from CM
Sanjay Pawar has complained several times to Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan and related departments about the irregularities in the PWD, but has got no response so far.
“I know that bills have been generated without executing the works. No work has been done at the Central police station since seven years. I have complained several times to the Chief Minister and am still waiting for action,” Pawar said.
The other side
In response to Sanjay Pawar’s allegations, Deputy Engineer, PWD, Ulhasnagar, S U Chaudhary said: “How is this possible? We have executed all works. He (Pawar) has wrong information.”