| The site of the FCI godown. Telegraph picture |
Guwahati, Nov. 13: The CBI has started a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption while awarding contracts for constructing a Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown at Changsari on the outskirts of the city.
On completion, the facility will be able to store 50,000 metric tonnes of foodgrains.
The anti-corruption branch of the CBI in Guwahati recently registered the preliminary inquiry and started investigating the allegations of corruption and favouritism while allotting the contract to Assam State Warehouse Corporation (ASWC), an official source told The Telegraph.
The FCI’s Northeast zonal office awarded the Rs 41-crore contract in 2009 when A.K. Roy was the FCI’s executive director (Northeast).
“The inquiry has been registered by the CBI’s anti-corruption branch in Guwahati following orders from the CBI head-office in Delhi,” the source said. “The preliminary inquiry will be converted into a regular case if sufficient material becomes available to show that prima facie there has been commission of a cognisable offence.”
Currently, the CBI is examining the various official documents related to the contract. “According to the information available with us, correspondence was on between the FCI’s head-office in Delhi and its zonal office in Guwahati for allotting the work to the CPWD. But the zonal office awarded the contract to the ASWC,” the source said.
“It is suspected that the FCI’s Northeast zonal office awarded the contract to ASWC instead of CPWD after some of its officials received financial benefits. On the basis of that suspicion, the CBI has initiated the inquiry,” he said.
When the work was allotted to the ASWC, there was a clause in the contract agreement that the FCI will make advance payment of one-third of the total value of the contract to ASWC, the source said.
“According to the agreement, Rs 2.75 crore has already been paid to the ASWC by the FCI as the first instalment of the advance payment. But there has been hardly any progress in construction of the godown except earth-filling work,” he said. The CBI will also find out why construction work has not yet started even after making advance payment by the FCI.
This project is an important one for the Northeast because it aims to enhance the foodgrain storage capacity of the FCI in the region.
Early completion of the godown will also reduce vehicular congestion in the New Guwahati and Noonmati are-as of the city as hundreds of trucks carrying FCI foodgrai-ns to other parts of the region will not have to enter the city.