Part - I
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, April 26: They say ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. This may well be true of what is going on within the Assam Infrastructure Fincing Authority (AIFA), which the Assam Government floated in October 2009 with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi as its Chairman.
The objective of the AIFA was developing infrastructure under the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode even as the politicians and bureaucrats involved in the floating of the authority seemingly had a hidden agenda. The State government was prompt to transfer a whopping Rs 1,640 crore to AIFA from 2010-13. Of late, there has been a murmur in concerned circles over the crores of rupees AIFA has given to beneficiaries whose credentials are questioble. Suspicions are rife that the real intention of floating the AIFA was to drain out funds from the State exchequer by an unholy alliance of greedy politicians and corrupt bureaucrats.
In 2015, a PIL was filed alleging fincial irregularities in various departments of the State government in the Gauhati High Court. The PIL mentioned AIFA as an ‘illegitimate child of the Government of Assam which was given birth to loot public money by government officials and politicians’. The PIL further stated: “The bank statement of AIFA reveals shocking information and huge embezzlements amounting to several hundred crore rupees. For instance, AIFA received a sum of Rs 500 crore in a single installment in their SBI CA No.31503276853 on March 29, 2011 and disbursed the same in 4 installments to some undisclosed beneficiaries on 30th and 31st March, 2011, without any details of such payments. The said instances are just the tip of the iceberg.”
This is not all. Even Principal Accountant General (P&E), Assam, Shantanu Basu told the Government of Assam about the transfer of funds to the AIFA: “…The initial corpus of Rs 500 crore paid out in 4 installments, to unknown beneficiaries, with the only identifiable payment being Rs 100 crore to Assam Gramin Vikash Bank (held in that Bank’s SBI A/C No. 30202305295). Even this amount was credited to the Assam Gramin Vikash Bank’s account on 30/3/11 and withdrawn by two debit transactions, one of Rs 85 crore and the other of Rs 15 crore on the same day and transferred to unknown beneficiaries”.
AIFA also made unusually large payments of Rs 249.99 crore (13/6/11), Rs 100 crore (20 & 23/9/11), Rs 70.15 crore (25/8, 16/10 & 27/12/12) and Rs 263.5 crore (04/2-14/2/13), totaling Rs. 683.64 crore on only 19 transactions to unidentified beneficiaries. The authority earned interest of Rs 3.09 crore that has not been returned to the Government of Assam which provided the corpus for the authority, nor TDS possibly paid. Owing to heavy transactions, this current account shows progressive debit transactions of Rs 1,185.86 crore and credit transactions of Rs 1,193.86 crore from the date of its opening, leaving cash balance of only Rs. 8.07 crore as on February 18, 2013. Neither does the AIFA authority have any website, nor are there audited annual accounts available in the public domain. Since it is a society, it also does not require any government oversight…”
(To be continued)