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Bihar govt wakes up to IITian's murder

December 05, 2003 19:46 IST
Last Updated: December 06, 2003 04:52 IST

The Bihar government on Friday said it would ask the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the November 27 murder of National Highways Authority of India project manager S K Dubey in Gaya.

Addressing a press conference in Patna, ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav said the state government took this decision because Dubey was an honest and upright officer who was killed for exposing the wrongdoings in the NHAI.

Yadav said a special investigating team headed by an officer of the rank of a deputy superintendent of police will continue with a parallel inquiry into the assassination of the IIT Kanpur graduate (1994 batch).
Dubey was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Gaya on November 27. Investigating, the Indian Express found out that he had written to the PMO about wrongdoings in the prime minister's pet project, the Golden Quadrilateral. However, despite an explicit request to keep his identity a secret, PMO officials carelessly passed the letter among bureaucrats.

Distributing photocopies of the letter Dubey had written to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Yadav said the engineer was killed by vested interests after he brought to light glaring irregularities in the execution of the Golden Quadrilateral Project.

The letter was received by the Prime Minister's Office on November 12, Yadav said. In an identical letter to the NHAI chairman, Dubey had requested that his identity be kept a secret. But his name was leaked, leading to his assassination.

The slain engineer had in another letter to NHAI chairman, a copy of which was also released to the press, expressed his displeasure over leaking of his identity.

In his letter to the PM, Dubey had questioned the process of procurement of civil contractors for the Golden Quadrilateral Project saying it was 'manipulated and hijacked' by big contractors who submitted forged documents to justify their technical and financial capabilities to execute the project.

"The big contractors have been able to get all sorts of help and secret information and documents from NHAI officials, and even note sheets carrying approval of chairman have been leaked," he noted.

The letter said the NHAI officials showed great hurry in giving mobilisation advance to selected contractors for financial consideration. "In some cases the contractors have been given mobilisation advance just a day after signing the contract agreement.

"The entire mobilisation advance of 10 per cent of contract value, which goes up to Rs 40 crore in certain cases, are paid to contractors within a few weeks of award of work but there is little follow up to ensure that they are actually mobilised at the site with the same pace, and the result is that the advance remains lying with contractors or gets diverted to their other activities," it said.

Dubey also highlighted the problems of sub-contracting by the primary contractors.

"Though the NHAI is going for international competitive bidding to procure the most competent civil contractors for execution of its projects, when it comes to actual execution, it is found that most of the works, sometimes even up to 100 per cent are subcontracted to petty contractors in capable of executing such big projects," he said. Everyone in the NHAI is aware of the phenomenon of subcontracting but turned the other way.

"I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me," the letter said.

In another letter to the Project Director, NHAI, Koderma, Jharkhand, on July 26, two days before he was to take over as Project Manager in Gaya, Bihar, Dubey expressed displeasure over the transfer saying it was baffling and would not serve the interest of the project in Jharkhand.

In his letter, he had drawn the attention of the Project Director to some 'irregularities' committed by contractors and consultant for the project.

Yadav said though Dubey had taken care not to sign his letters to the PM and NHAI chairman, he had appended his bio-data, which was leaked.

The RJD leader suggested the Centre institute a separate CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the Golden Quadrilateral Project, which the slain engineer described as a dream project of unparalleled importance to the nation but in reality a 'great loot' of public money.

He also requested the Centre to provide adequate compensation to the family of the deceased. His party would also request Chief Minister Rabri Devi to make an ex-gratia payment to the slain engineer's family.

In Chandigarh, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways B C Khanduri on Friday night said that he had no objection to the CBI probing Dubey's murder. "I have nothing to hide," he said.

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