GUWAHATI:Even as a probe is on into the Guwahati Water Supply Project bribery scam, the then Assam Minister and Congress stalwart Himanta Biswa Sarma has denied any wrongdoing.
“I’ve gone through the copy of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) chargesheet. Nowhere did it mention my name. All it said was about a Goa Minister and officials,” he told reporters here on Wednesday.
Last week, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) disclosed that the New Jersey-based consulting firm Louis Berger International Inc would pay $17.1-million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it paid bribes to bag government contracts in India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait between 1998 and 2010. The company had allegedly paid `6.1 crore for two water projects in Guwahati and Goa.
Sarma said he had been implicated in the case. “A section of the media here is unnecessarily implicating me in the scam. They had targeted me even in the (multi-crore) Saradha and NC Hills scam. But eventually, I was given a clean chit. A probe, ordered by the state government, is on and I won’t interfere in it. There was no manipulation or favouritism,” he said.
Sarma was Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Minister between 2006 and April 2011. Louis Berger was awarded the consultancy in 2009-10 along with Japanese firm Nihon Psuido and Shah Technical Consultants. The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which is under the GDD, is handling the project.
“The files date back to just three to four years. How can they get lost? Let me also assert that I didn’t have any connection whatsoever with GMDA files. My connection was with government files,” Sarma said while responding to reports that the files have gone missing.
“There cannot be any discrepancies in the files I had gone though. I don’t know if a different set of files were passed on to me after manipulation at the lower level,” he said.