14 accused have so far been arrested, but none of them are contractors
The Azad Maidan police on Saturday arrested four site engineers of private contractor firms in connection with the BMC’s road scam, taking the total number of the arrested accused in the case to 14. However, the police have not arrested the contractors as yet. The entire road scam since past three years is said to be over Rs 350 crore.
Those arrested have been identified as Sanjay Dinanath Singh (37) of M/s J Kumar - KR Construction (JV), Sunil Bapusaheb Chavan (28) of M/s Relcon - R.K. Madhani (JV), Sandip Ashok Jadhav of M/s RPS KR Constructions (JV) and Santhanavel Velmani (23) of M/s RK Madhani & Co.
The four site engineers’ job was to check if the work was being carried out properly. They would issue requests for inspection to the audit firms after completion of the work as per norms.
“The requests for inspection were made by the accused on the instructions of contractors and cleared by the audit firms. The arrested accused from the audit firms then falsely informed the BMC that the work done was fine (despite shoddy work) and they may clear their bills,” said an officer.
Contractors to be held
Around Rs 10.56 crore of the state exchequer has allegedly been lost due to this crime.
However, police have not arrested any contractors yet. When asked about this, police PRO DCP Ashok Dudhe only said, “Till date we have arrested contractor firms’ four site engineers and the investigation is on.”
However, a senior officer supervising the investigation said, “Those arrested are not just the site engineers, they are representatives of the contractor firms, so there is no question of going soft on the firms. We are going systematically and interrogating the accused whose instructions they followed. Once we get concrete evidence against the contractors they will not be spared.”
The four arrested have been remanded in police custody till June 21 by a holiday court. Earlier police have arrested 10 auditors of the two, third party audit firms for allegedly wrongly verifying the work done on the roads.
In April this year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had registered a first information report against six contractors and two auditors’ firms in connection with the road construction scam. The FIR was registered under Sections 120 (A) (criminal conspiracy), 197 (producing false documents) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC by chief engineer (roads) Manohar Pawar.
During the inspection of 14 roads from the island city, 11 in western suburbs and nine in the eastern suburbs, the BMC-appointed inquiry team found massive irregularities in road repair and reconstruction work, as the foundation of the roads was not according to the standard and the quality of road work was shoddy, states the FIR.
The FIR states the shoddy job by contractors cost the civic body more than Rs 10 crore of public money. Similar irregularities by contractors were found in the inquiry for the period of 2013 -14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, taking the
entire scam to the tune of over R350 crore.
According to an inquiry report submitted by Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh, all 34 roads sampled in the first phase of the inquiry were found to have violations. The committee had dug trial pits and taken samples of the material. The committee found that in most cases, entire layers of the roads were missing. It was only after these violations were found that the BMC filed an FIR against the six contractors involved.
Two chief engineers had been placed under suspension pending a departmental enquiry. The civic body is also probing the role of the other engineers working on these projects, following which action will be taken against them.