Thursday, February 7, 2013

Major scam and misuse of public money by Mamta party run Kolkata Municipal Corporation

Nothing fair about Kolkata Municipal Corporation trident ‘fair rate’

Saikat Ray, TNN Oct 4, 2012, 01.26AM IST
KOLKATA: Trident lamps have muddied the civic waters further. It has been revealed that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) fixed Rs 17,690 as "fair rate" for installation of trident lamps - a few notches above market rates.
The rate on offer for a medium pole with lamp at the KMC's Entally workshop is Rs 9,600 - at least Rs 5,000 above the existing market rate. A TOI team probing the KMC rate came to know about it from suppliers at Muktaram Babu Street. According to market estimates, the medium pole costs Rs 3,500 while the KMC put it at Rs 5,800. A solite (decorative lamp) distributor at Shibnarayan Das Lane, off Bidhan Sarani in north Kolkata, put the price of each lamp at a maximum of Rs 2,000 while the KMC fair price rate is Rs 2,965.
Worse, the KMC lighting department fixed the rates after taking quotations from two small-time shops in the sanitary and fittings trade — one at Nirmal Chandra Street and the other at Shibnarayan Das Lane. The arbitrary price fixing has raised eyebrows even among officials in the state urban development department.
Heads rolled in the lighting department with director general (electrical) Gautam Patnaik being transferred to the Kolkata Environment Improvement Project. But the controversy refuses to die down even if mayor Sovan Chatterjee is desperate to sweep it under the carpet. Like Patnaik, other senior officers namely Monobrata Bose, now acting DG (electrical), was also a signatory to the fair rate decision as officer on special duty. Even an executive engineer of the lighting department had signed the rate, though they remain where they were.
Even as Patnaik in his reply to the show-cause said whatever he did was after consultation with his political bosses, the mayor refuses to probe the muddle further. "We have no role in fair rate fixing. The lighting department officials did it on their own," Chatterjee said. On the contrary, the mayor refused to take sides when asked how the lighting department could fix rates for the entire state except Salt Lake by consulting two shops only. "It is up to the lighting department to choose the process," the mayor said. Chatterjee was also non-committal to the Opposition demand for a probe.
Surprisingly, the TOI team that spotted the two shops based on corporation documents found that the owners didn't ever speak to corporation officials. "Yes, we are in touch with KMC-enlisted contractors to whom we supply materials," said the decorative lamp distributor at Shibnarayan Lane. But the one at Nirmal Chandra Street expressed dismay over his shop being mentioned in the KMC papers. "I am not into it," the shop owner said. However, he hinted at a shop on Muktaram Babu Street that has been supplying medium poles to KMC contractors.
The mismatch between KMC records and the reality over fair rates has come as a shot in the arm to the Opposition in the KMC. "We have already demanded a probe. The mayor has turned it down. But the recent revelations indicate that the trident lamp controversy is turning out to be a major scam," said KMC opposition leader Rupa Bagchi.

Trident main accused in HC, says mayor signed file

Saikat Ray TNN 07.02.2013

Kolkata:Mayor Sovan Chatterjee once again finds himself in the dock in the trident light scam.
    A former civic official indicted by the KMC as the prime accused in the scam has moved the Calcutta high court, alleging in his petition the file on installation of the lights —integral to beautification drives undertaken to realize the CM’s vision of turning Kolkata into London — was signed by Chatterjee.
    Gautam Pattanayak, former director general of the KMC’s electrical department, retired on December 31 last year, but was shunted out months before that to the Kolkata Environment Improvement Project. In paragraph VIII of his petition, Pattanayak has said the mayor signed the file on January 1, 2012. Since the file recommended emergency installation, the KMC’s electrical department finished the work within two months, the petition adds. Pattanayak has said he has documents to back his claims and will produce them before the court. His petition will come up for hearing at Justice Jayanta Biswas’ court on Friday.
    The official has also accused the KMC of holding back his retirement benefits that include provident fund, gratuity and pension.
 Didn’t approve breaking of rules: Mayor As the KMC brass went into a huddle with senior lawyers on Wednesday to discuss its reponse after receiving a notice, the mayor rubbished the charges and said he had cleared a file that was routed through proper channels and hadn’t approved breaking of rules. He said the KMC’s lawyers will contest the case.Pattanayak’s claims have, however, added to the simmering discontent in the KMC ranks over officials being made scapegoats for councillors’ faults. A delegation of KMC directors-general (DGs) have already taken up the issue with the mayor, requesting him not to take harsh steps against officials since they had only carried out instructions from political bosses
    An internal audit report submitted by chief municipal auditor Biplab Guha Roy just over a week ago found the entire process of installing trident lights-—right from tendering to fixing
the ‘fair’ price — to be lacking transparency. The auditor also pointed to "extraneous circumstances" that compelled civic officials to bypass rules.
    While officials believe that Pattanayak, who was in charge of the electrical department, was responsible for impropriety, they also want ‘political’ forces that influenced his actions to be exposed. Apart from Pattanayak, officer-on-special duty (electrical) Monobrata Chaudhuri was showcaused. Like Pattanayak, he was also transferred to the Kolkata Environment Improvement Project. 

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