KOLKATA: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought a report from the CBI, which has been probing a multi-crore scam at ports in West Bengal, in which a ruling TMC MP’s family-owned company is allegedly involved.
The alleged scam has resulted in the loss of several thousand crores to the state exchequer, as private agents were employed to handle onshore operations by the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), Haldia Dock Complex in West Bengal and 10 other ports in the country without any tender, in which Ripley & Co was also involved.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose, one of the directors of Ripley & Co, was arrested last month over his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, being probed by the CBI, the ED and the SFIO. Illegal barge operations were going on at 12 ports in India and a CBI inquiry was ordered after the BJP Government came to power.
During the UPA-II regime, BJP MP from Gujarat Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but no action was taken. He is now a Union MoS for Tribal Affairs and following a second letter from him in this regard,the PMO ordered a CBI probe.
The CBI first started with the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), where the company of Bose family allegedly ran a monopoly business for decades, defrauding the state exchequer of thousands of crores. The CBI recorded statements of two officers of the HDC about the monopoly cargo handling business of the Bose clan,besides providing a questionnaire to the HDC and the KoPT officials. There were several allegations against Ripley & Co, as Surat-based shipping company ABG, while leaving the HDC, had alleged that its executives were threatened by armed goons at the behest of its business opponents and were aided by a section of the HDC and the KoPT officials.
The CBI sources said that all persons, including the politicians who had aided them, responsible for such a huge loss to the exchequer, would be brought into the purview of the investigation. In this regard, while some senior officials of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping (MoPS) figure on its list, the CBI is investigating the role of Bose, his father Swapan Sadhan Bose, a former TMC Rajya Sabha MP, and several other politicians, including that of a former MoS, Port and Shipping in the UPA-II Government and TMC national secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy.
According to the CBI, Sections 42 and 48 of Major Port Trust Act, 1963, specifically touches upon the selection of onshore handlers, but this was not followed at all. Such Sections were never abided, while selecting Ripley & Co for operations at the HDC and the KoPT.
As such, during the last few years, the KoPT lost around `2,500 crore worth of revenue and all this was done at the behest of some corrupt MoPS officials and politicians.