A private company that won the contract to maintain crucial facilities for India’s longest railway tunnel deployed less than half the staff it was required to and lied to the government about it, the CBI alleged while opening an investigation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR against six people — four Railways officials and two from Sarvonik Sistem India Private Limited — for criminal conspiracy and cheating since the private firm billed the Railways for 87 employees while engaging only 35 people on an average.
The company has been responsible for the ventilation, electro-mechanical works and telecommunications inside the 11.2-kilometre long tunnel connecting Qazigund and Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pir Panjal range.
The contract was given to Sarvonik for Rs 5.34 crore in 2015. The following year, the contract was extended for 12 more months.
“As per the contract agreement, 87 employees were required on ground for round the clock operation and maintenance of Pir Panjal Railway tunnel,” according to the CBI FIR.
“The actual attendance register also shows that less number of employees (were) deployed on ground (and) as such huge loss was caused to the government exchequer.”
Further, according to the FIR, the contract provided for registration of 87 employees for provident fund (PF) but only 22 employees were registered for the PF.
Identity cards were issued to all 87 employees, but only 38 of them got I-cards for 2016-17.
“In this way, (the) accused persons entered into criminal conspiracy and cheated the railway department by abusing their official position by authenticating the fake employees and raised the inflated bills as per the contract agreement, thus caused a wrongful loss to the government of India,” the FIR concluded.
Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has constructed the 11 km long Pir Panjal Railway tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India, which has been successfully commissioned by Indian Railways. IRCON is the executioner of the Project.