Chandigarh’s multi-crore mega projects under CBI scanner

January 29th, 2010 - 1:08 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Jan 28 (IANS) A host of development projects, being built at a cost of crores of rupees, in Chandigarh will be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the role of a number of top officials of this union territory (UT), past and present, will also come under the scanner.
The CBI’s anti-corruption branch Thursday initiated a preliminary enquiry into the allotment of these mega-projects to the private bidders by the officials of UT administration.

The agency will probe the “theme-cum-amusement park” and “multimedia-cum-film city” projects, which were launched in the last four years, during the tenure of former administrator S.F. Rodrigues.

“We have registered two separate preliminary enquiries to look into the allegations of serious irregularities adopted by UT administration while awarding two mega projects, theme-cum-amusement park and multimedia-cum-film city to private companies,” Mahesh Aggarwal, CBI deputy inspector general, Chandigarh, told IANS Thursday evening.

“We will undertake an inquiry against senior officials of the administration, who were posted here at the time of allotment of projects. Some of these include advisor to the UT administrator, home secretary, finance secretary and tourism director.”

“Right now we have not registered any case but after the completion of our investigation, case will be registered against all guilty officials,” Aggarwal said.

A Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) probe into these two projects was initiated in December 2008. The CVC had also summoned senior officials of the Chandigarh administration to New Delhi in March, last year, for questioning.

The home ministry audit had also highlighted gross anomalies in the procedure followed while pursuing the projects.

Rodrigues was at loggerheads with local unit of Congress and Chandigarh’s senior most bureaucrat, Advisor to the Administrator Pradip Mehra over the controversial land deals in these projects.

Rodrigues, a former Indian Army chief, has recently retired as UT administrator and Punjab governor after completing his five-year tenure.

Mehra had openly objected to these land deals allegedly for being under-valued and also for allotting the land to certain builders at rates much lower than the prevailing market price.

“UT administration had decided to set up theme-cum-amusement park, in 2006, over an area of 73.65 acre in village Sarangpur in Chandigarh. The direct enquiry of CVC has revealed irregularities in the award of this project to Unitech Limited. The project had been conceptualised without proper approvals and the value of land was found to be grossly under assessed,” a CBI spokesman said earlier Thursday.

“In the case of multimedia-cum-film-city project, CVC enquiry revealed manipulations in the fixing of the reserve price and the bidding process, resulting in the award of the project to Parasavnath Developers. The value of land was again under assessed and distortions in the open bidding methodology led to loss to government exchequer,” he said.

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