Valley News Desk

Another shocker from SMC

Lakhs of rupees withdrawn through forged signatures, fake tenders

Haroon Nabi

Srinagar, Sep 21, KDC: Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has turned into a corruption hub as yet another corruption case has come to the fore where payments worth lakhs of rupees have been made to blue-eyed contractors through fake signatures of Executive Engineer.

Even the Executive Engineer Right River Works Division of the SMC flagged the issue with Joint Commissioner (Works) of the SMC that the matter be properly investigated.

“In reference to your office letter of February 10, 2020 and December 9, 2019, it is to state that some miscreants have floated rumour in the office and around that some unknown people have prepared forged allotments with fake allotment numbers related to NIT tender 14 of December 9, 2019. Since, the matter was extremely sensitive and to ascertain the facts this office immediately issued cancellation notice of the NIT in question,” reads the executive engineer’s letter.

However, the fresh allotment was given to a blue-eyed contractor and funds were withdrawn without following the codal formalities laid down by the government.

The Kashmir Dot Com also reported on Friday that rupees 6 crore were withdrawn for construction of bathrooms which don’t exist on ground.

“Major portion of the money has gone into the accounts of political activists,” said a senior official in the SMC.

In some cases payments have been made to beneficiaries without conducting any work, or double payments have been made for a single work.

Meanwhile, people with vested interests are brazenly indulging in illegal construction, while authorities are blamed to be in slumber to check on the menace of illegal construction.

News gathering agency Kashmir Dot Com- (KDC) is in possession of several documents, which suggest that from 2017 to 2020 a big loot has been going on, where crores of rupees have been drained out from the public exchequer.

According to the details in 2019-20 a contract under number “Notice Inviting Tender” (NIT) 14 works were allotted to a blue eyed contractor without issuing a formal tender a complaint about which is under investigation by Anti-Corruption Bureau Srinagar under NIT 14 of 2019-20 SMC-JCW/SE/5195-5200 dated 10-02-2020.

Sources told KDC that the said tender to the tune of Rs 13, 59,395 was fraudulently issued by a group of SMC employees through fake signatures of the then Executive Engineer SMC.

After the complaint was filed with ACB and formal investigations were initiated by the bureau, the above said fake contract was cancelled and the work was accomplished through fresh tenders issued by Joint Commissioner Works SMC.

For the purpose, fake signatures of Executive Engineer Right River Works division SMC were used to allot contracts fraudulently.

The fraud is not limited to NIT 14 only, but several such irregularities are reported to have continued, even after NIT 14 being under the investigation of ACB.

Few tender notices to mention here, the copies of which are also in possession of KDC, where contracts and disbursement of payments were issued on the basis of forgery are NIT 43 of 2017-18, NIT 10 and NIT 44 of 2018-19, and NIT 13 of 2019-20.

Only in NIT 10 and NIT 13 only lacs of rupees were misappropriated through fake signatures of the then Executive Engineer SMC.

Sources said that some draftsmen and computers operators of the corporation, in connivance with some top officials have excelled the art of misappropriation of public funds by issuing forged documents in favor of a selected contractors against huge bribes.

The rot has become evident by the fact that a contractor recently deposited an amount of 2 lac rupees in the account of a Head Assistant of the Corporation.

Meanwhile, in another fraud case, huge misappropriation of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) amounting to 1, 44, 00, 000 has been alleged in Zadibal constituency.

The said amount was issued by the concerned MLC through a letter written to SMC on 27-07-2019; however according to sources only few works were conducted for this amount and in case of a specific work, payments were withdrawn twice, using forged documents, by the group involved in the frauds, sources said.

The amount released for the beatification of the Srinagar has never been utilized in proper way.

Taking advantage of the crisis situation post abrogation of Article 370, people close to corrupt babus have managed to erect huge concrete structures in Srinagar in violation of master plan.

When contacted, Commissioner SMC Gazanfar Ali confirmed to KDC that after his joining the Corporation, some cooperators, during an interaction at SKICC with the then Lt. Governor G C Murmu complained to him, about a fraud in case of a particular NIT, which according to the directions of the LG was addressed with appropriate action.

Reacting to large scale illegal construction prevalent in the Srinagar city, he said that during his tenure, 100 illegal structures were demolished and 55 were sealed.

“Even when I am talking to you, sealing of a structure is underway in Baghat Barzallah,” he said.
No one will be allowed to indulge in encroachments or illegal construction, he said. (KDC)

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