Louis Berger bribery scam
Former GMDA CEO claims Guwahati water supply file was ‘approved’ by the government
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 10: The State government had given its stamp of approval to the Louis Berger file, the then CEO of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) Pritam Saikia admitted today, while at the same time claiming that the procedure of awarding water supply works in Guwahati was “correct”. Meanwhile, upping the ante on the alleged bribery scam, opposition parties have demanded a CBI probe into the matter, contending that the CID probe ordered by Chief Minister Gogoi will be useless.
Speaking to media-persons outside the Assam Assembly, Pritam Saikia, presently Commissioner at the Cultural Affairs department, claimed that he knew nothing about what transpired in the Guwahati Water Supply Project after he moved on from the GMDA. “My sigture is on the Louis Berger file as I was the GMDA CEO at that time. The file had come to me after it was approved at the Secretariat level. For such work there has to be government approval… the system operates like that. It all happened 4-5 years ago. I feel that the procedure for awarding the works was correct,” he said.
Meanwhile, expressing dissatisfaction at the CID probe ordered by the Chief Minister yesterday, the State BJP has demanded a CBI probe into the matter. BJP leader and Sorbhog MLA Ranjit Dutta said: “This scam does not mean that only the then Guwahati Development department (GDD) minister was responsible. The Chief Minister is responsible as well. The GDD Commissioner too cannot escape blame. Nothing will come out of the CID probe the CM has ordered. We demand a CBI probe for only it can unearth the truth behind the whole matter.”
It may be mentioned that an embarrassed Chief Minister Gogoi had to order a CID probe yesterday after PWD minister Ajanta Neog admitted in the House that copies of the agreement relating to the Japan Intertiol Co-Operation Agency (JICA) assisted Guwahati Water Supply Project, in which US firm Louis Berger was a consultant, are missing.
The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) CEO had on April 18, 2011, lodged an FIR at Bhangagarh police station after a burglary at his office during which several documents, including those relating to the three water supply projects of the city, were stolen.
The JICA-assisted South and Central Guwahati and North Guwahati Water Supply project is a Rs 1,973.56 crore scheme. An amount of Rs 414.08 crore has been released so far and 41 per cent of the work completed.
Louis Berger employees have confessed before a US Federal court that they had paid bribes to “officials and a minister” to get the water supply projects in Goa and Guwahati.