The Tripura Police Crime Branch Sunday registered an FIR against former PWD minister Badal Choudhury over alleged irregularities in works amounting to Rs 600 crore carried out between 2008 and 2009. The FIR was lodged at West Agartala Police Station on Sunday, charging Choudhury and two others with fraudulent activities, corruption, criminal breach of trust, and suppression of evidence, among other charges.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, West Tripura Superintendent of Police Ajit Pratap Singh said a case was registered with West Agartala Police Station charging Badal Choudhury, former PWD engineer-in-chief Sunil Bhowmik and former chief secretary Yashpal Singh.
“We shall investigate all aspects of this FIR, considering it as a criminal case. We can’t comment any further at this stage. They have been charged with 409, 429, 201 and section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act”, the officer said. No arrests have made till now. The FIR was filed after gathering observations from the PWD and a vigilance enquiry on the former minister.
Vital documents pertaining to the whole process went missing from the department previously, following which the Public Works Department (PWD) lodged a theft case as well.
Badal Choudhury told indianexpress.com, “I have heard about this as well. But I haven’t seen any copy of the FIR. I can’t comment anything on this now. The party (CPIM) will speak on it,” he said.
Late Sunday, Opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued a press statement terming the FIR as ‘political vengeance and a conspiracy’.
“This FIR has been lodged against former PWD minister and deputy Opposition leader Badal Choudhury as a move of political vengeance and in order to divert public attention from the deep anguish created by utter failure in fulfilling election promises”, the statement, issued by CPM state office secretary Haripada Das, said.
The matter was also raised in the legislative assembly in September.
Speaking in the Assembly, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who is also in charge of PWD, had said, “Nearly Rs 225 crore was spent in addition to the amount approved by the state cabinet on different infrastructure development schemes in 2008-09 financial year. The then cabinet note on the said subject and note of the then Principal Secretary don’t match. We have started a vigilance investigation after these irregularities came to our notice”.
He also clarified that as per cabinet memo, 10 per cent cost plus basis was approved on the estimated costs of the infrastructure development projects implemented by PWD in 2008-09. However, a separate note signed by the then Principal Secretary YP Singh mentioned 35.75 percent cost plus basis was approved on estimated costs. This additional expenditure approval was not made by the cabinet, neither did the government know anything of it in official document, he had said.
Choudhury had then responded: “Infrastructure development works implemented in the Left regime were of very good quality. We are still proud of our work,” claiming the Vigilance Department invited him to ‘seek help’ on certain information and not for questioning as an accused.