PWD man worked statewide scam

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 07 Mei 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The controversy surrounding the arrests of Nashik PWD executive engineer Satish Chikhlikar and section engineer Jagdish Wagh took on a statewide hue on Monday after sources close to Chikhlikar's interrogation said he has admitted to acting as a go-between for bribe collection for contracts that are even outside his area of jurisdiction. Chikhlikar is in charge of the Nashik circle's north division.

Chikhlikar has also reportedly told Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths that a similar modus operandi for collecting kickbacks existed in other parts of the state. Raj Khilnani, director general, ACB, said the agency could extend the investigation to other areas in Maharashtra based on actionable evidence collected during Chikhlikar's interrogation and raids.

Since, 2008 there have been 31 ACB cases against 39 PWD officials. The department's annual budget is around Rs 7,000 crore, an outlay that is among the highest in the state. Of this budget, a huge Rs 2,000 crore is for road maintenance and Rs 4,000 crore for road plans.

The two engineers were arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 22,000 for a Nashik road maintenance contract.

TOI had on Monday reported that a well-oiled nexus allegedly existed in the corruption-riddled PWD department, with kickbacks of 6 to 10% on contracts being generated.

Several new properties of Chikhlikar's, including plots in Pune, an office in Vashi and a factory, have been uncovered, with Khilnani saying said that some vehicles and properties appeared to be benami. Probes are on in this regard.

The ACB had earlier evaluated Chikhlikar's total assets at Rs 14.28 crore. On Monday, officers said they had also recovered certain diamond ornaments. "Their worth is yet to be evaluated," Khilnani said, adding, "His income tax documents are being screened too."

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who took stock of the investigation on Monday, has decided to back the ACB in its probe. After being briefed by Khilnani on the investigation's status, he reportedly asked the agency to continue probing the matter.

Khilnani, who has been saying a lack of investigators could hamper the investigation, sought 12 more superintendents of police and an additional director general to increase overall ACB staff strength.

PWD officials attempted to distance themselves from the controversy by claiming that the bribe had been sought for road work being undertaken through funds released by the tribal development department. ACB sources, however, said the scanner was firmly on the PWD department.

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