Odisha: 7 arrested for tender fixing and misappropriation of funds

Bhubaneswar: Seven persons including government officers and a contractor were arrested by Odisha’s anti-graft Vigilance wing for their alleged involvement in tender fixing and misappropriation of funds during the construction of a bridge over Taladanda Canal in Cuttack.

The arrest was made on Thursday after an investigation by vigilance sleuths showed that an amount of over Rs 43.16 lakh government money had been misappropriated by the officials in connivance with the contractor during the execution of the bridge project during 2014-15 to 2018-19 , a Vigilance statement said.

The arrested persons were identified as Rajanikanta Dalabehera, assistant executive engineer, Rabinarayan Sahu, assistant engineer, Abanikanta Rout, divisional accounts officer (retired), Ranjan Kumar Debata, assistant engineer, Sudhir Kumar Panda, executive engineer (retired), Bimal Chandra Dash, superintending engineer (retired) and contractor Trupti Ranjan Debata, it said.

Following allegation of misappropriation of money during the construction of the bridge, Cuttack Vigilance registered a case and investigated into the matter.

Probe revealed that during the tender process only Trupti Ranjan Debata submitted bid papers for award of the work by furnishing a false “No relation certificate” in violation of terms and conditions of the tender, though his elder brother Ranjan Kumar Debata was working as assistant engineer under R&B Division, Cuttack, it said.

The tender was accepted by Bimal Chandra Das, the then Superintending Engineer, R&B Circle, Cuttack for Rs 2,12,53,801 and an agreement was executed on January 1, 2015 with contractor Debata, it said.

As he had no such working experience, Debata executed a power of attorney and authorised Manas Ranjan Ojha to execute the work. However, actually his brother Ranjan Kumar Debata, assistant engineer, was executing the work and there has been monetary transaction with the power of attorney holder Ojha, it said.

After completion of the work, contractor Trupti Ranjan Debata was paid a sum of Rs 2,02,25,148 by the executive engineer towards bill amount based on the measurements and check measurements taken by the assistant engineers and assistant executive engineers without any bills and invoices from authorised/designated dealer in support of purchase of steel, it said.

Further investigation revealed that during execution of the work, an amount of Rs 43,16,044 has been misappropriated by the above government officials in connivance with the contractor by falsely showing excess utilisation of iron rods and cement and allowing payment in excess of the estimated cost, the release said.

As prima facie evidence was made out against them, the seven were arrested on Thursday. Further investigation is in progress, it added.

(PTI)

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