New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday wrote to Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) accusing union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari of crony capitalism and nepotism in awarding the contract of Rs.10,050-crore Zojila Pass Tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir.
The contract was awarded to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. to build southeast Asia's longest tunnel at Zojila pass in the border state. Singh met CVC K.V. Chowdary on Monday and gave him a letter accusing Gadkari of nepotism in awarding the contract.
"The connection between the IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. - Dattatreya Mhaskar and his family and Nitin Gadkari is well known. When Nitin Gadkari was a minister for PWD in Maharashtra, all the major contracts were awarded to IIRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. Also it is a matter of fact that IRB Infrastructures had invested in Purti Companies of ANitin Gadkari," Digvijaya Singh told media persons afterwards.
In his letter to the CVC, he wrote: "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 Gadkari family and Nikhil Gadkari (Nitin Gadkari's son) was the shareholder and promoter director in Ideal Energy Projects Ltd. of IRB Group.
"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."
The letter further read: "The award was designed, structured and implemented in such a way that CVC guidelines were given a proper by-pass. 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," it added.
Gadkari, however, denied the charge while interacting with reporters at a press conference.