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Three senior Railway officers booked for ‘rigging tender’ of Rs four-crore project

Other bidders for 2016 project disqualified wrongly: CBI

Three top officers of Central Railway’s Pune Division have been booked by the CBI for allegedly rigging the tender process for a project in 2016.

They awarded the contract to a particular firm after disqualifying others wrongly, causing loss of Rs 49 lakh to Central Railway, said CBI.

The three officers have been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery, and under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

A private contractor has also been booked in connection to the case.

The Anti-Corruption Branch of the CBI has registered a Regular Case (RC), equivalent to a First Information Report, against the three officials who were heading their respective departments in 2016.

They were part of a committee to process a tender to carry out repair work at the railway staff quarters in Ghorpadi, as well as a related project on the water system. The project was estimated to cost approximately Rs 4.4 crore.

The RC stated, “Officials of the Pune division of Central Railway, identified as R N Gupta, the then senior divisional engineer (co-ordination), Santosh Parage, senior divisional finance manager, and M S Rajput, the then senior divisional electrical engineer (Traction Distribution) entered into criminal conspiracy with each other and private contractor Rahul Choudhary of Mangalmurty Constructions, Pune.

By abusing their official position, they recommended and awarded the tender to Mangalmurty Constructions at higher rates by way of manipulating the tender proceedings and disqualifying the lower bidder on the basis of fake and forged papers regarding credentials and thereby caused wrongful loss of Rs 49 lakh to Central Railway and corresponding gain to the private contractor and themselves.”

The agency also conducted searches at various locations in Pune and seized some documents pertaining to the tender process, said a senior CBI officer.

For the project, bids were invited from civil contractors on April 18, 2016, by the Engineering Department of the Pune Division of Central Railway.

The bidders were required to fulfil certain criteria, such as the total contract amount received by the contractor during the last three financial years had to be a minimum of 150 per cent of the advertised tender value and the bidder should have completed at least another project in the last three financial years, for a minimum value of 35 per cent of advertised tender value, said CBI officials.

In response to the tender, Central Railway received and processed four bids. The rates quoted by two of the bidders were less than that of Mangalmurty Constructions, said the officer.

“The three officials disqualified one of the two lower bidders on grounds of not fulfiling the 35 per cent criteria. But they also disqualified the second bidder, in spite of the contractor having submitted documents showing adequate amount of previous work.

To support their act, they replaced the documents with forged certificates, purportedly issued by the same authority… subsequently, the competent authority awarded the tender to Mangalmurty Constructions, based on the committee’s recommendation, leading to loss of Rs 49 lakh to Railways… and gain to contractor and themselves,” said the officer.

CBI sources said the agency will also probe if the same officials have also rigged other tendering processes in a similar manner.

Divisional Railway Manager of Pune, Milind Deoskar, said he hasn’t received any communication from the CBI on the matter. “We have not received any communication from the CBI… so, I would not like to comment on the issue,” he said.

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