Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Rising People’s Party alleges Rs.65 cr graft in road works

Staff Reporter

Rising People’s Party (RPP) on Tuesday levelled a serious allegation on fraudulent withdrawal of approximately Rs.65 crore by the contractor and officials of PWD (R&B) without executing two road projects (Akhen-Star Lake and Lephory-Molhe Post) in Meluri sub-division under Phek district.
This was made at a media briefing here Tuesday by RPP president Joel Naga. He claimed that the firm, contractor, executive engineer (PWD, R&B), Phek division, chief engineer (PWD, R&B) siphoned off Rs. 65, 67,27,000 sanctioned against two work orders in complete violation of the terms and conditions laid down in the work orders.
Joel claimed that contracts were awarded to government registered class-I contractor & supplier M/S Rhino Construction and M/S Nagaland Steel Engineering Works that operate under the same proprietor.
Joel Naga claimed the “scam” was brought to its notice by concerned residents of Lephori area after the culmination of party’s walkathon campaign.
Subsequently, he said the party members along with Rising Youth of Phek division travelled to Lephori area to assess the situation. At Lephori, Joel said they met and interacted with village council chairmen of three to four adjacent villages, council members and youth leaders. Joel said that a first information report (FIR) was filed with Meluri police station by Rising Youth Phek on April 11.
He said the work order was issued in 2011 and withdrawal was done over a period of six-seven years with Rs.30 crore as the initial withdrawal amount.
RPP president also claimed that the state finance department sanctioned an additional amount of Rs.15 crore against the work order in 2017, the same was repeated in 2018.
In total, Joel alleged that Rs.60 crore of funds for construction of roads connecting Lephory area to Molhe post were misappropriated without any work.
Describing the road connecting Akhen area and Star Lake as “namesake road”, he said that even “Shaktiman trucks” would find difficult to ply.
Joel Naga said that an estimated Rs. 5crore of funds was sanctioned for the said construction project.
On inspection of the site, RPP president said that instead of constructing assigned roads for public commute, the contractor directed the funds towards constructing roads for his personal commute (around 5-10km stretch) into a remote area within Akhen village.
He further claimed that the contractor set up his own sawmill and had been running a logging business for the past 10 years or so.
In this regard, Joel said the party has approached principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and asked the Forest department to take necessary actions. However, Joel said that the department has failed to take any actions till date.
RPP, in a representation dated April 14, 2022 addressed to the principal chief conservator of forest, demanded immediate closure of the sawmill and take action against the person(s) responsible under relevant sections of the Law within 11 days.
With regard to road projects, RPP said that besides the first work order the executive engineer on January 21, 2014 issued completion certificate for the second and third work orders, but no work was done at the sites.
RPP said that public have been lodging complaints for a long time, adding that a court case was also underway. However, the party said that the department was “not willing to entertain them or their grievances.”
RPP general secretary Amai Chingkhu also claimed that when the concerned public went to submit an ultimatum to the department, they were intervened by the contractor and threatened the chief engineer and the village council representatives.
The party has questioned as to why the department was hesitant to settle the grievances of the public despite withdrawing crores of rupees?


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