Blow to Bajoria, VIDC as HC toughens stance

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Feb 2018 09:26:37


 

Staff Reporter,

Asks VIDC to produce documents of 4 projects of Yavatmal, Buldhana today

In a major blow to Bajoria Construction Company of Yavatmal, controlled by ex-MLC Sandip Bajoria considered as a close aide of former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) to submit all documents pertaining to four major projects in Yavatmal and Buldhana district by Thursday.


A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Arun Upadhye while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Atul Jagtap alleging that Bajoria’s firms bagged contracts for Jigaon and other projects on the basis of bogus documents and only due to gross violation of norms by authorities due to his proximity to then Deputy Chief Minister, also directed VIDC to submit documents pertaining to departmental probe against officials and other relevant documents on February 8.


Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had already registered offences against Bajoria Construction company and seven engineers under section 119, 420, 466, 468, 471,474, 192, 193, 197, 198, 120 (B), 109 and other sections of the IPC for misappropriation in Jigaon

 

Irrigation Project at Khamgaon Police Station. The ACB has filed a case against them on November 3, 2017 exposing the unholy nexus of contractors and officials who allegedly milked thousands of crore meant for irrigation projects. The company was not eligible for the contract but the Executive Engineer of Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikarn, Chandrapur helped him by preparing fabricated documents of the company to bag the contract by the company. The PIL alleged that it bagged contracts for Jigaon and other projects on the basis of bogus documents. The cost of the Jigaon project rose to mind-boggling Rs 5,700-crore from Rs 394 cr in 15 years. The cost is expected to further cross Rs 7,000 crore by the project’s deadline in 2019.


Request made on behalf of former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to delete his name from the array of respondent since there were no allegations against him nor he had any connection with contract awarded to Bajoria or alleged irregularities, was not considered by the High Court during last hearing. The High Court had made it clear that request can be considered after ACB submits its report.


Pursuant to earlier directions issued by High Court about stance of the State Government about progress in probe against Pawar and Bajoria in respect of alleged irregularities in Raigad river project at Chandur Railway and Waghadi irrigation project in Daryapur, Principal Secretary of WRD in his affidavit had informed that Jeegaon and Lower Pedhi project works were being probed by the ACB while vigilance section of WRD conducted the audit of Jeegaon and report had been submitted to State Government. Pursuant to this report, the ACB would act further. ACB probe into Lower Pedhi had been ordered in July 2017 and Vigilance Section
would conduct audit of this project. Similarly audit of Raigad and Waghadi project is being conducted by Superintendent Engineer of Vigilance section.


The PIL alleged that tender conditions were tweaked to favour the construction firm controlled by Bajoria, a big name in irrigation construction sector, allegedly at the behest of Pawar. Bajoria’s firm got contract for both the projects only due to his proximity with Pawar. The petitioner, who obtained details under the RTI Act, and filed series of petitions against Bajoria, alleged that forged and fabricated documents were submitted by Bajoria to meet the eligibility criterion. The PIL also slammed respondent contractor firm for not completing project work despite availing mobilisation advance from Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation while demanding high-level probe into irregularities and scrapping of tender process and issuance of new tenders.


Adv Shridhar Purohit appeared for the petitioner. Additional GP Anand Fulzele (State) Senior Counsel M G Bhangde (former Dy CM), Adv Shyam Dewani (Bajoria), Adv Vivek Palshikar (VIDC) represented respondents.