MUMBAI: Maharashtra government is at on war over submission of affidavits to defend the bureaucrats in connections with Rs 358 crore worth road construction and toll charges scam in the Public Works Department (PWD).
The PWD has submitted two affidavits – one defends the shoddy role of the bureaucrats while another exposes them. The Bombay High Court has scheduled the hearing of this case on March 8, 2019.
TNIE was first to report this Rs 358 crore scam in the PWD. The state chief secretary Ajoy Mehta, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, CP Joshi, PWD secretary, Manoj Saunik, finance secretary and Ajit Sagne from PWD hurriedly approved the Rs 358 crore’s road construction and toll charges controversial settlement file during the president rule between November 12 to 28, 2019..
As per documents assessed by TNIE, the PWD had given the Rs 98 crore worth work to Manaj Tollway in year of 2012. However, due to delay in work, Maharashtra government had cancelled his contract and ready to pay Rs 98 crore. However, as compensation, Manaj Tollway had demanded the Rs 358 crore and filed the case with arbitrator. The PWD officers rather than challenging the order of arbitrator, they offered Rs 358 crore to Manaj Tollway and shown agreement for settlement during the president rule in Maharashtra.
PWD minister Ashok Chavan said that they have decided to recover the exchequer amount. “We have filed our own affidavit in the Bombay High Court cancelling the earlier filed affidavit of settlement. The bureaucrats want to give away our public money to Manaj Tollway, but we will ensure this money will be recovered and saved” Chavan said.
Sources in government said that this is the first time that they are two affidavits filed by same department in court on same issue. “It shows how bureaucracy dominates the government and underestimates the power of the minister. Actually, the minister is the government, not the babus. The babus should not treat themselves as a higher-ups,” said source requested anonymity.
When called Ajoy Mehta, state chief secretary and Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, both were unavailable for comment.