What happens when the police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials sniff a shady deal? They get cracking on the officials involved, right? Apparently not.
In the financial year 2009-2010, the BMC purchased 2,320 pieces of protective gear, or personal protective equipment, for its fire brigade department.
PK Jain, currently the additional director general of police who was then working as the director of Maharahstra Suraksha Mahamandal, learnt about some irregularities and on July 15, 2011 complained to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Mumbai.
In its investigation, the ACB found many irregularities. Bimal Agarwal, the director of Technotrade Impex India Pvt Ltd, which sold the equipment, had sold multi-functional belts at Rs 10,743 a piece, whereas only a few months later, he had sold similar belts to the Mumbai police for Rs 1,980 a piece. He had submitted a letter of authority stating he would supply gloves, jackets and trousers from a Chinese-based company, Shanghai Zanaray Industrial Co. Ltd, but had instead supplied products from a certain company named Shenzhen U Protec Fire Retardant Applications Company Ltd in China.
He had also submitted a letter of undertaking stating he would supply shoes from a UK-based company, Giffard Newton & Sons Ltd, but what eventually the firemen got were shoes from a Kanpur-based firm called ATO Exim. As the ACB report (copy available with ABI) put it, Agarwal had forged documents showing involvement of foreign companies and overcharged for the equipments.
Co-incidentally, in 2013, it had been alleged that Agarwal had provided poor-quality bomb suits to the Maharashtra police, and had been charged for cheating the state government of Rs 6.25 crore.
ACB submitted the report (copy available with ABI) to the BMC and Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai police on August 21, 2012. It demanded that action be taken against BMC officials, Anil Vishnu Sawant, Pratap Damodar Karguppikar, Uday Keshav Tatkare, Anil Govind Shotriya and Bimal Agarwal. However, none of them have been brought to book even now.
These details were recently revealed by Jain. He had filed an RTI seeking details of the ACB report. Not only had the ACB demanded action against the errant officers, it had also sent a reminder on January 22, 2013 (copy available with ABI) demanding a departmental inquiry (DE).
“I am shocked. Neither BMC nor Mumbai police are taking action against the corrupt BMC officials or the cheating company,” said Jain.
Last year on July 16, BMC officials registered a cheating and forgery case with the economic offences wing (EOW) and the Antop Hill police station. The police station however transferred the matter to the EOW claiming that the scam amount exceeds Rs50 lakh and it thus has no jurisdiction on the matter. According to Jain, both the BMC and police are disinterested in taking action.
The investigation is at on last stage. We will take appropriate action on accused,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW), Mumbai police.
After repeated attempt Sitaram Kunte, commissioner BMC was not available for comment. Even he did not reply to our text messages.