After Shiv Sena's Thane MP Rajan Vichare tried to force a chapati into the mouth of a Muslim IRCTC employee during Ramzan, the party had said that the incident was not about religion, but about the pathetic condition of New Delhi's Maharashtra Sadan. In this regard, a state legislature committee has pointed to massive irregularities in the construction of the Sadan, the Andheri RTO and High Mount Guest House in Mumbai through public-private participation. Moreover, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has alleged that the Sadan contractor is PWD minister Chagan Bhujbal's family's commercial partner, who had given sub-contracts for the project to his kin.
What has the committee found?
The public accounts committee (PAC) headed by senior BJP MLA from Pune, Girish Bapat, has alleged that the public works department (PWD) had awarded work on constructing public buildings worth Rs 100 crore to private developer Ms K S Chamankar Enterprises without calling tenders in return for commercial exploitation of a prime plot in Andheri. The developer secured profits of around Rs 5,000 to 6,000 crore. The body has sought an SIT and CBI probe into the matter. “An inspection in the Sadan revealed lacunae in the works. Consultants and architects appointed by the government did not do their work properly,” said the report submitted to the state legislature in February.
What's the Bhujbal angle?
Somaiya has alleged that Bhujbal's family members had been sub-contracted works in the Sadan by the same contractor. “The Maharashtra Sadan contractor is (Bhujbal) family's commercial partner,” charged Somaiya, adding that sub-contracts for the project had been given to Bhujbal's daughters-in-law (son Pankaj and nephew Samir's wives). He further alleged that the project's architect had designed Bhujbal's 'raj mahals' at Nashik and Lonavala. Bhujbal could not be contacted for his comments despite attempts.
Accusations against the PWD
The committee report noted that the PWD took possession of the Sadan even when the work was incomplete. The CAG had earlier pointed out that the builder would gain around 55% profit. This was more than the ceiling of 20% returns on investment. Somaiya produced a letter dated June 28, 2013, from Maharashtra's resident commissioner Bipin Mallik to then chief secretary J K Banthia, which said, “PWD is unable to get the unfinished job accomplished by the developer. As a result, the new building is unfit to be commissioned for the time being,” it said. The letter also said that major systems like internet, telephony, mechanised laundry, business centre, MP lounge and staff dining had “not been attended to despite repeated follow ups.” “The flooring at some places have also been badly damaged. Finishing appeared shoddy at many places,” Mallik noted.
What was the condition of the Sadan?
Somaiya claimed that the 30-odd MPs from Maharashtra, who were staying at the facility, had to put up with lack of drinking water, smelly bath water and leaking roofs. Moreover, the suite meant for the Governor was infested with termites, and the four other suites did not have working ACs and fans. An inspection of the Sadan by the PAC in June had revealed that none of the newly elected Congress and NCP MPs, or even chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and his cabinet colleagues stayed in the Sadan.