The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jailed builders fetter projects

Kharagpur, Oct. 16: Maintenance and development work in the Kharagpur division of South-Eastern Railway has ground to a halt as a majority of the contractors entrusted with the projects are behind bars along with gangster B. Rambabu, who was convicted in the Goutam Chowbey murder case.

Railway authorities also said tenders for jobs involving crores of rupees had failed to draw bids.

Railway sources said several developmental work in the division, including two model stations, were stalled as the contractors were not available for the work. “The contractors who were appointed for the jobs are now in custody,” said senior officials of the Kharagpur division.

On August 31, Rambabu and 17 associates were jailed for their involvement in the murder of Gautam, son of former MP, Narayan Chowbey. Goutam was killed on September 11, 2001.

The company owned by Manu and Satyen Singh received a contract in November 2000 for constructing several facilities for passengers in 14 stations. As per the contract, the job was to be finished by 2002. While Manu was sent to jail, Satyen, another accused in the case, is absconding.

Construction of Midnapore and Meshed model stations, estimated at Rs 55 lakh and 34 lakh respectively, were suspended nearly a year ago and contractors Ranjit and Prasad Tadi, brothers-in-law of Rambabu, are now in jail.

Similarly, many other construction works, involving crores of rupees, have been hampered as Dharambir Singh, Sailendra Singh and Vikram Singh, close associates of Rambabu, were engaged as contractors by the railway.

Senior divisional engineer Manas Sarkar admitted that their hands were tied. Asked why the “convicted murderers” were not being blacklisted by the railway authorities, Sarkar said: “We can only blacklist a contractor when fault is found with his work. We cannot interfere into one’s personal life.”

He said there were other problems too. “In many cases, it has been seen that one of the partners of a company is in jail while the others are innocent. “How can the railway authorities take action against such firms'” Sarkar asked.

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