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Tender scam probe gains momentum

Kendrapara, May 25: The Kendrapara police, probing into the tender-fixing scandal, on Tuesday seized documents from the saline embankment division of the irrigation department.

Subsequently, tender contracts of 34 government civil construction projects have been cancelled.

The recent arrest of gangster Tito had revealed that the government project tender bids were being fixed by crime syndicates through acts of intimidation.

The alleged nexus between the criminals, officials of the engineering wing and the contractors is under scanner even as the police have begun a thorough probe into the antecedents of active members of a trade union floated by Tito.

“The police found corroborative evidence that tenders had been fixed in 34 bids out of 47 tenders invited from the Aul saline embankment division in recent months. The bidders had been awarded the said contracts in excess amounts than the actual cost of the project. Contrary to the normal practice of stiff competition in tender bidding process, a select band of contractors numbering two to three vied in the tender bidding. From the investigation, it’s clear that the concerned contractors took recourse to the gangsters in intimidating their rival bidders who stayed away from the process,” said Kendrapara superintendent of police Narasingha Bhol.

The projects, which have come under the tender-fixing scanner, were worth over Rs 5crore. The work mostly pertained to repair and maintenance of seaside embankments in coastal Rajnagar and Mahakalpada tehsil of the district.

“We have arrested Tito, the kingpin of the tender-fixing racket. Now, the contractors, who grabbed contract works by unlawful means and gangsters’ help, have been identified. One of them has been arrested. The rest would be booked shortly under commission of criminal offence of this nature,” said the SP.

The tender-fixing scam came to light in 2005 after gangsters shot dead a contractor because he had allegedly defied their dictates and taken part in bidding. The crime branch of state police took up the case then.

However, many people arrested on tender fixing charges were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

According to police sources, tender work worth Rs 27crore in five engineering divisions in the district was reported to have been fixed. Probe done so far suggested that the bidding had been sabotaged by the gangsters as there were hardly two to three bidders for 127 construction projects. Majority of these projects were awarded to the lowest bidders with prices quoted found to be more than the actual funds allocated for the projects.

“Tito is alleged to have earned a huge amount of money by fixing tenders after he came out of jail on November 11 last year. His network influences areas such as Kendrapara, Paradip, Jagatsinghpur and parts of Cuttack district. Moreover, his trusted lieutenants, who he had pressed into service, were many unemployed youths from a particular community in the tender-fixing job,” Bhol said.

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