Truck terminal at Mumbai-Pune Expressway throws up another big scam
Probe of how project pegged at Rs 2,000cr during Cong-NCP rule, came down to R10 crore under BJP govt, reveals manipulation of re-tendering process
A Resident of Latur has opened a can of worms after he brought to light a major scam that took place in 2010, under the Congress-NCP government, in the tendering process of the Rs 2,000-crore truck terminal project on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Construction underway at the truck terminal site in Khalapur
Deepak Patil, 59, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last year, appealing them to register a case against the defaulters, who were responsible for manipulating the "inflated" tendering process for construction of the terminal. The Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) and deputy superintendent of Khalapur, who is currently investigating the case, has not only managed to prove that there was merit to Patil's allegations, but also unearthed another scam in the re-tendering process in 2015.
In 2010, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) -- hired by the state to construct, operate and maintain the Mumbai-Pune Expressway -- decided to build a truck terminal for heavy vehicles, alongside the roads of both corridors of the expressway due to non-availability of separate parking facility for heavy vehicles.
Accordingly, MSRDC hired six companies to develop six plots of land. As per the proposal, the companies were to develop parking facility on 50 per cent of the land and utilise the remaining for commercial activities. In 2015, the BJP government decided to cancel the tender and issue another one. This time the cost of the project was pegged at R10 crore.
Patil, who owns eight acres of land near the truck terminal project, wrote to the CM and Modi, asking them to investigate on what basis had the MSRDC previously quoted R2,000 crore for the project.
Earlier in 2017, Narayan Rane had also raised a question when the Assembly was in session, regarding the scam. Eknath Shinde, the PWD minister in the Assembly had replied that they were going to conduct an inquiry.
Accordingly, CAG and the Khalapur Police were roped in to investigate the case. Even as the team was conducting a probe, another scam came to light in the re-tendering process.
For the new Rs 10 crore project, bidders were expected to have a minimum experience of seven years in business, and developed at least nine truck/bus/container terminus during that period of time. Further, they had to have an average annual turnover of not less than R10 crore with a net worth of the same amount.
But, Patil claims that the report by CAG, who carried out a survey, revealed that the net worth of R10 crore was not fulfilled by Vikram Telematics and Mystical Technoplast, who were shortlisted for the project. While Vikram Telematics' turnover was R3.32 crore and Rs 3.48 crore for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 respectively, Mystical Technoplast turnover during that same period was Rs 1.25 crore and Rs 1.37 crore. Vikram Telematics also didn't have the minimum seven years of experience.
Deepak Patil, who had first written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding an investigation into the case
Further, tender conditions were altered in the favour of the companies. "The selection of the companies was not transparent, which has resulted in losses to MSRDC," alleged Patil.
A report submitted by Vijay Tukaram Pandharpate, deputy superindent, Khalapur has stated that the paper work for the tendering process was manipulated again.
When contacted, Pandharpate said, "After taking the statements of all the companies involved in the tendering process, we found that the land was given was on low deposit and also, low rent. A report has been sent to the superintendent of police, Raigad."
Despite repeated attempts, PWD minister Shinde was unavailable for comment.
Mehboob Jamadar 44, a local activist from Khalapur, who has studied both the Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 10 crore projects, said, "The Rs 2,000-crore project was cancelled on the grounds that it had been planned on private land. But, if we observe the second project, the issues are same. Here too, private land is being used, and the tendering process was also not done following the norms and guidelines."
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