State Times News
SRINAGAR: The opposition National Conference’s Kashmir Province President Nasir Aslam Wani on Monday alleged that a group of four Ministers was lobbying for allotment of Rs 350 crore dredging works in favour of a private agency that was the single bidder in the competition. Government circulars make it incumbent upon the allotting authority to issue allotment in favour of the first lowest bidder among minimum of three competing agencies.
Wani, who has served as MLA, MLC and Minister of State in Omar Abdullah’s government, said “a group of four Ministers in the PDP-BJP Government” were lobbying in favour of a particular firm and pressurizing the Cabinet Sub-Committee to award a Rs 350 crore contract for dredging to the firm on a single-bidder basis. “This is yet another instance when the topmost echelons of the State Government’s leadership is personally involved in mega-scale, multi-crore scams and scandals and this cannot be happening without the active patronage and involvement of the Chief Minister’s Office”, the NC Provincial President said without naming any Minister.
When pressed hard by STATE TIMES to either substantiate or withdraw his allegation, Wani pleaded that he was at a wedding in Jammu and “not in a position to reveal the names”. “I’ll speak to you later”, he asserted.
Well-placed official sources, nevertheless, said Wani’s allegation was related to a major dredging works in Wular Lake to be executed by Wular Lake Conservation Management Authority of Forest Department. Previously, reports had said that an influential lobby of Ministers and bureaucrats was seen to allot this multi-crore work to the same Kolkata-based firm that had been engaged for dredging works of over Rs 100 crore in the Jhelum river.
In his statement released from NC’s headquarters, Wani demanded a thorough probe into this “lobbying effort by the Ministers in favour of a particular firm and the possibility of kickbacks to them”.
“Have these Ministers received kickbacks to lobby in favour of this particular firm? The people of J&K have reeled under economic distress and a governance deficit from the very day the PDP-BJP Government took over and it is disappointing that the Government is solely focussed on corruption and filing the coffers of its Ministers and leadership”, Wani asserted.
The NC Provincial President also demanded “an objective and thorough probe into recent revelations of serious and huge irregularities, and corruption” in the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC). According to him, attachment of the JKPCC Managing Director Daleep Thusu “seems to be an attempt at covering up the Chief Minister’s and the concerned Cabinet Minister’s personal involvement in these scams”.
“In the telephone conversation that has gone viral, the concerned officer has clearly hinted at the involvement of the Chief Minister and in light of this there should be a probe examining the role of the Chief Minister in the award of various multi-crore contracts in JKPCC without any due tendering process in favour of the kith and kin of various Ministers and close business associates of the Chief Minister and her family’, the NC Provincial President added.
Wani lashed out at the Government for “breaking all possible records of loot, plunder, nepotism and corruption”.
“This Government has compromised the transparency of our public institutions by selling hundreds of contracts to a select list of firms and contractors who are personally associated with Senior Ministers and have the direct patronage of the Chief Minister and her office”, Wani alleged.
Officials in Chief Minister’s Secretariat and Department of Information refused to make reaction on record without getting it cleared from the highest quarter. However, on condition of anonymity they dismissed Wani’s attempt to drag the Chief Minister in a controversy as “irresponsible and preposterous”.
“Government took cognizance, attached an officer in the dock and an investigation is going on into his working in JKPCC. Further action as warranted under rules on the basis of an enquiry report would be taken against whosoever to be found involved in corrupt practice, nepotism or favouritism. Why drag CM into it?”, said an officer. He said that Wani’s allegation into the dredging contract would also be investigated if he named the four Ministers.
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