With FIRs already having been registered at 10 places with regard to irregularities in the supply of bitumen, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau will now probe a new angle of non-payment of VAT in respect of trucks carrying bitumen. It suspects that these vehicles never reached their destination as shown in PWD records.
The bureau has dispatched its teams to Bilaspur, Mandi and Gohar to scrutinise the records pertaining to supply of bitumen during the Congress regime after it chanced upon a new fact that in some cases VAT had not been paid while transporting the supplies. As such, it is being suspected that some of the trucks, which, according to the records, had reached their respective destinations, were never sent at all.
SP, Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in the Vigilance Bureau, Hardesh Bisht confirmed that it had come to light after scrutinising the records that VAT had been evaded in transportation of bitumen. The fact that VAT payment has not been made in certain areas gives rise to suspicion that the trucks might not have reached the destination at all while it was shown otherwise in records, he stated.
It is only after the vigilance teams return after inspecting the records that the extent of irregularities will be known. Ten cases have so far been registered by the bureau in the bitumen scam all over the state.
It was in May earlier last year that the bureau had seized records from various divisions of the PWD regarding irregularities in bitumen supply between March 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008. It was during investigations that it was detected that at several places entries had been made in the stock registers of the PWD while the supply had not been made at all. In other cases, the stock reached its destination almost six months late.
The Him Agro Industries, which was the nodal agency for the supply of bitumen, has also imposed a penalty of over Rs 2.85 crore on four defaulter transport companies that were awarded the contract for supplying bitumen from the refineries of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the Hindustan Petroleum, located at Panipat.
The bureau is looking into the reasons for extension of the contract awarded to these companies beyond March 31, 2008. The contract was extended till June 30, 2008, despite the fact that irregularities had already come to light by then.