BJP accuses Naeem Akhtar of corruption; probe ordered Alleges former public works minister, a Mehbooba aide, allotted construction projects to favourites

Srinagar:06 Jul 2018
Serious corruption charges have been levelled against Naeem Akhtar, a senior PDP leader and close aide of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. In a letter to Governor NN Vohra, Valley-based BJP leader and former vice-chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) Khalid Jehangir alleged that the former Public Works Minister had allotted prestigious projects to his blue-eyed persons on verbal directions.

The charges have been levelled at a time when the PDP is facing a revolt of sorts from a section of its MLAs amid speculations of horse-trading over government formation.

Day before tendering his resignation as JKPCC vice-chairman after the break-up of the PDP-BJP coalition, Jehangir, in a letter to the Governor, demanded the constitution of a fact-finding committee to probe the graft charges.

Meanwhile, the Governor has ordered a probe into the charges levelled after receiving the letter. According to official sources, the probe will be conducted by the State Vigilance Commission and the charges would be probed thoroughly.

“The former Public Works Minister on verbal directions has allotted prestigious projects to his blue-eyed persons who do not have experience in the construction field without tenders or following the codal procedure. These projects include the medical college in Anantnag and the Government College of Engineering and Technology in Kathua, projects entrusted to the JKPCC under World Bank funding and many more,” the letter addressed to the Governor reads.

“The works of high magnitude are being allotted to these persons in violation of the rules and regulations while the works of very meagre magnitude are subjected to e-tendering to befool the masses. The need of the hour is to constitute a fact-finding committee which can investigate such matters and submit its report to the Honourable Governor so that the government exchequer and the money of the masses are not looted anymore,” it adds.

When asked about the timing of the letter and why the matter was not raised when the coalition government was in power, Jehangir said he had done the same during the last board meeting but he was not taken seriously. “I had raised the matter during the last board meeting. I had questioned how a Rs 200-crore project was allotted without the process of e-tendering. However, I was told that the situation was bad during that period,” Jehangir told The Tribune.

He also alleged that the engineering staff, which oversaw and executed these projects, were mainly being posted from the Roads and Buildings Department. “It has been observed that engineering staff repeatedly managed their posting to the JKPCC or managed to stay there for pretty long periods to allot works to their favoured people,” he said while adding that the corporation management in the past purchased outdated mechanical equipment worth crores of rupees without following the “codal procedures”.

‘Governor has to take a call’

PDP leader Naeem Akhtar on Thursday said the Governor had to take a call on the matter as the letter by BJP leader Khalid was addressed to him. “The letter has been addressed to the Governor and he has to take a call. He (Khalid) himself was a part of the corporation as vice-chairman,” he said.