Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

RAJANUGATA DHARMAH is what India’s ancient wisdom has observed. It means, offices function in tune with the conduct of the ruler. Mr. Narendra Modi is ruling over India as the Prime Minister. MCL and NBCC are two undertakings of the government Mr. Modi is heading. Both are regarded as jewels amongst the best of Central Govt. Undertakings called Navaratna undertakings. Both these undertakings are involved with a scam, which, exposed in ORISSA MATTERS, has attracted media attention so huge that all TV majors as well as top-circulated newspapers of Orissa have competed with each other to further dig out the massive corruption, in public interest. Sadly, the Central Government, which keeps accounts of Orissa in details in its political interest, has kept its eyes closed to this as yet.

The instant instance relates to a very costly, several crore worth construction work of MCL executed through contractors whom the work was not assigned. The work was assigned to NBCC “on the basis of single nomination” under the plea of excellence. NBCC has executed the work through contractors, who could not have qualified to bag the order if tender should have been called for. Thus, it may be deduced that sub-standard contractors have bagged the costly project of the central government undertaking through the back-door.

Had there been no MCL officer in nexus with NBCC, such stark illegality could not have occurred. The Modi government should dig out who this officer is. But, as we see, a particular officer namely Abani Kanta Samantray, Deputy General Manager of MCL at Bhubaneswar has been put to vigilance scanner. In a Fax Message on 21.04.2016 bearing No. MCL/SBP/Vig./[APR]/2016/762, the Dy. GM (Vig.)/TS to CVO has sent Sri Samantray a questionnaire captioned “Information regarding the booking / acquisition of Flat / House in NBCC or any other projects”. In this faxed order he has been asked to say:

“( I ) Whether any Flat/House has been booked by you in NBCC or any other projects either in your own name or in the name of any dependent including your spouse?
( ii ) If yes, whether the total number of such properties so booked/acquired have been declared in the Annual Property Return furnished to the Company?
( iii ) The total number of such properties and their individual valuation need be communicated to the Vigilance Secretariat”.

Samantray was directed to treat the above communication with “TOP MOST PRIORITY”.

He has been further zeroed in, as order No. MCL/SBP/Vig./[APR]/2016/786 of 26.04.2016 suggests. Captioned “Additional information and documents regarding the booking / acquisition of Flat/ House in NBCC or any other projects”, this order wants to know from him, “( I ) Total cost of the house property being acquired in the name of his wife in NBCC project; ( ii ) The installment-wise payment schedule and source of payment of each installment already paid”.

But that the vigilance has located one property, which, in its view, has links with the illicit deal, is suggested by use of the words “this property” in its question No. (iv). “As required by the CDA Rules, whether the intimation about the acquisition of THIS property has been given to the competent authority and the permission for the same has been obtained by you”? When under query No. ( iii ), detailed particulars of the payment already made for THIS property as asked for, at ( v ), he has been asked to furnish “self certified photo copies of the cheque and receipt of payment already made”.

Surprisingly, against such spotting by the vigilance, the MCL authorities have not taken any step against Samantray and he is very much in his position where maneuvering the administrative machinery to his advantage may not be very difficult.

But, why the MCL is reluctant to take action? It leads us to illegalities of MCL authorities in appointing NBCC to execute its project. If the instance would properly be investigated into, the MCL authorities would be taken to task.

The MCL is a corporate body where the central government has investments in forms of shares. It is neither the ministry not the department and therefore is not the government.It has given the work order to NBCC under “single nomination” norm by wrongful application GFR 2005 rules applicable to Public Works Organizations, NBCC being a PWO. But, this is blatantly illegal inasmuch as the norm has been twisted to accommodate the illicit intention.

When the ‘Single Nomination’, as defined by SC and CVC, is applicable only in exceptional conditions such as lack of response from any bidder after repeated tender calls at time of emergency or natural calamity, as per GFR Rule 2, definition of “department of Central Government” means a Ministry or a Department of the Central Government, not a Corporate Body in which the Government has shares.

On the other hand, obtaining lease of a huge stretch of lands for its office complex over plots 735 (P) and 405 (P) in Khata No. 298 in Mauza Bijipur under Bhubaneswar Tahsil, it assigned the work under the mischief of ‘single nomination’ to NBCC for another organization called MINREM, which is a different legal entity created under a different registration. As per MOU, the NBCC was to obtain approval of BDA for the construction of its office complex. But, without any approval, it engaged sub-contractors to build the office of MINREM, even without essential change of records of lease.

This blatant illegality was exposed on April 7, 2016 in ORISSA MATTERS. Thereafter, all out attempts have been made to create records to cover up the illegalities. MBPL/BBSR/2016-17/36 (19.04.2016), MCL/BBSR/CIVIL/2016-17/160 (27.04.2016), MCL/BBSR/CIVIL/2016-17/175 (29.04.16) are just a few communications that help us read the shenanigans following the exposure.

This specific instance, now in the epicenter of covering up exercises, deserves in-depth investigation by CBI, if the central government is willing to protect public exchequer from the looters that act under the cover of public offices they hold.

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