Opening a new front against the ruling BJP-led Central government, the Congress party on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “take action” against Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari for his alleged role in awarding the Rs.10,050 crore contract of Zojila Pass Tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir.
The senior Congress leader also asked Modi to have the issue probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Digvijaya had on Monday written to the Central Vigilance Commissioner on the same issue.
The contract has been awarded to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. to build southeast Asia’s longest tunnel at Zojila pass in the border state. Digvijaya has alleged that Gadkari has links with the Mhaiskar family, the promoters of IRB Group.
“I request you to kindly examine the matter and take necessary actions immediately so as also to ensure that the first instalment of Rs.981 crore is withheld till proper enquiry is made. I have brought this matter to the notice of the Central Vigilance Commission,” Digvijaya said in his letter to Modi. “I am sure that you will go deeper into the matter to unearth the truth and will not shy away from referring the matter to the CBI for prosecution.”
Earlier, in his letter to the CVC, Digvijaya Singh had raised the links between the Gadkari and Mhaiskar families.
“The association of Nitin Gadkari with the Mhaiskar family, the promoters of IRB Group is the worst kept secret. In the past, they have invested crores in the business companies of the Gadkari family and Nikhil Gadkari [son of Nitin Gadkari] was the shareholder and promoter director in Ideal Energy Projects Ltd. of IRB Group,” Digvijaya had written to the CVC.
“The concession period for the project is 22 years. IRB will receive semi-annual annuity of Rs.981 crore from commencing of construction of the project which would be received twice in a year till the end of the concession period,” said the Congress leader.
In his letter, Digvijaya further said: “The award was designed, structured and implemented in such a way that CVC guidelines were given a proper bypass. Legal smoke screen around the contract is endeavoured. IRB was the sole bidder in the final round, whereas in the initial rounds other companies of repute like ILFS, HCC, L&T etc. were there.
“They were given specific signals to withdraw or face consequences in other projects. IRB do not have any specific experience in construction of tunnel of such magnitude in high altitude. The tender documents were also designed in such a manner that all other non-favoured bidders were elbowed out,” he claimed.
Gadkari, however, denied the charge while interacting with reporters at a press conference.