Tuesday, January 15, 2013

KMC drags feet over trident row

KOLKATA: Even after 10 days of the internal audit report, pointing anomalies in the tender procedure for procurement and installation of trident lights, municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed is waiting for comments from chief municipal auditor Biplab Guha Ray before taking administrative action against the errant officials. The 60-plus page report on the 'controversial trident deal' was submitted on January 5 by a team of audit officials who had been assigned the job by the civic top brass.

The auditors from a reputable chartered accountancy firm made it clear in their report that anomalies were found on two major fronts. One, while awarding contracts for procurement and installation of trident lights bypassing the civic body's tender rules and two, while fixing the price for the trident poles and decorative lights. The audit report said when Kolkata Municipal Corporation's Entally workshop was manufacturing trident poles and supplying those with decorative light fittings to other municipalities at Rs 9600 each, how could the civic body procure each unit of trident light at Rs 17690.

A day after the report was submitted to the municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed, mayor Sovan Chatterjee said action would be taken against those involved in the anomalies over the tendering and procurement of trident lights. Ahmed, too, had assured of administrative action against the errant electrical department officials. However, without taking any action, the matter was referred to the chief municipal auditor Biplab Guha Ray. The municipal auditor, who had sought a transfer order a couple of months ago and was granted it, is in a fix. Worried over the internal feud regarding the trident issue, Guha Ray had sought a transfer outside the civic body's jurisdiction. He was first transferred to Kandi in Murshidabad district. A transfer order then followed a month ago asking the municipal auditor to join the government engineering college at Kalyani. However, the KMC top brass refused to sign the release order. The municipal commissioner asked him to continue with the civic body's job till the trident controversy is over.

Guha Ray, known for his strict stand on financial irregularities, has already made several uncomfortable queries on a wide-ranging issues starting from wasteful expenditure in several infrastructure projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban renewal Mission ( JNNURM) to the installation of trident lights.

When contacted, Guha Ray refused to elaborate on the issue. "I have been asked to go through a report. If I have to make a comment, I will do it and submit the report to the municipal commissioner," Guha Ray said on Monday.

Just as the Bofors scam continues to hunt the Congress even to this date, it seems, the trident scam is going to haunt the Trinamul for the rest of its tenure and even after that unless Mamta decides to take immediate action and punish those that are involved. But how can she.

The Trinamul awards contracts to favourites in all corporations run by the Trinamul. The Trinamul has a large bank of lumpen who were earlier in the CPM.

The Trinamul has to feed them.

So it arranges to give them civil contracts in all the corporations and municipalities where they are in control.

It asks the promoters of residential buildings to take building materials from their party men or otherwise the building is not allowed to be built, material is stolen. This was done during the CPM rule and it is done now also.

Promoters are also forced to give the local club affiliated to the Trinamul, flats /offices free or at greatly reduced rates.

Mamta Banerjee has already given all the clubs a tidy sum of money to get their support during the coming elections.


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