An alleged corruption racket busted by Times of Assam has brought a sensational disclosure to the fore about a systematic kickback system executed by MoRTH (Ministry of Road Transport & Highways), NHIDCL & Isolux through agents like Pankaj Kumar that has stalled work in the 34 km Jorhat-Jhanji 4 Lane construction project for almost 2 years now.
Despite the project value of 300 Crores, no any construction firm or contractors are willing to take up the project except for a minor subletting of 3 km stretch near Teok being worked upon by a lesser known contractor low on company credentials.
An in depth investigation by Times of Assam has revealed how kickbacks to the tune of several crores of rupees were received by a broker named Pankaj Sarma who promised to get the work in first hand to M/s Sahabuddin Siddique and delivered as promised after paying to all 3 parties including officials of Nitin Jairam Gadkari’s MoRTH, NHIDCL & Isolux. However failure to pay more resulted in quashing the allotment of the contractor citing factors like inferior works, materials etc.
Exclusive images of NEFT transfers by contractor Sahabuddin Siddique of Duliajan in part to Pankaj Sarma to a branch in Paharganj in New Delhi and 4 Lakhs to one Mahesh Misra Project Manager of Isolux office of Jorhat having an account at HDFC Jorhat alone bears testimony of the high profile corruption.
Besides audio recorded conversations between Pankaj Kumar and a manager of the firm M/s Sahabuddin Siddique has once again exposed the nexus.
A look back into the stalled work because of which the ordinary people are witnessing nightmare due to repeated cases of accidents and vehicle breakdown is igniting apathy against the BJP led government and towards Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari following the inefficiency to handle and develop the 4 Lane road construction by Isolux Corson, the Indian representation of Corsan Corviam Construction S.A, a company incorporated under the laws of Spain which won the contract of 4 Laning of Jorhat to Jhanji section of National Highway-37, from Km 453.000 to Km 490.800 in the state of Assam under SARDP through Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) basis (Project) invited by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH).
The delay is already taking its toll on the free movement of traffic after the project got delayed by more than 2 years now. A non-experienced Manipur based firm was earlier awarded the contract but failed to carry out a single piece of construction in the Assam region. The failure thus resulted in Isolux Corson terminating the contract and entered into a fresh agreement with Sahabuddin, a reputed contractor of Duliajan to carry forward the work by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Contractor Sahabuddin immediately started the construction including clearing of the allotted chainage areas and building Isolux instructed hume pipes starting from the Ajanta Hall bypass end of Jorhat as mentioned in detail of the MoU.
The contractor not only deployed heavy machineries but also engaged scores of unemployed youths to speed up the construction which was already running behind schedule by a year, but suddenly a decision by the then Isolux Corson New Delhi Office to induct another contractor in the same chainage Km 460+685 to Km 479+460 in the otherwise 34 Km of road between Jorhat and Jhanji stalled works, non payment of commission amount being the sole reason.
Top officials of the Isolux Company having office in Jorhat were believed to have been behind the conspiracy to engage these two contractors at loggerheads. Notably the newly inducted contractor was also alleged to have offered huge kickbacks to the tune of several crores of rupees at both the Jorhat and the New Delhi office through brokers to enter the deal.
Aamir Hazarika is Staff Reporter of Times of Assam. Hazarika is an investigative Journalist for more than a decade.