IPS officer alleges vendetta by Rijiju’s relative for reporting Rs.450-crore scam

Gujarat cadre IPS officer Satish Verma, who assisted the CBI in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, has said in a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that his services as the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) of a power corporation were curtailed as he had flagged a transportation scam worth Rs. 450 crore involving a relative of Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and also for investigating a fraudulent land deal in Gujarat.

Mr. Verma’s tenure as the CVO of the North Eastern Electrical Power Corporation (NEEPCO) was curtailed by a year in July, and he was simultaneously served notice for alleged “misconduct” and “unauthorised absence” from duty by the Home Ministry. In the affidavit, Mr. Verma said that all his outstation visits were accounted for and were done to investigate the fraudulent activities.

 Listen to the conversation between Satish Verma and Goboi Rijiju

Mr. Rijiju represents Arunachal (West) constituency in the Lok Sabha and the alleged scam pertains to the Kameng hydroelectric project being developed by the NEEPCO.

Mr. Verma said that Goboi Rijiju, one of the affected transporters and a ‘distant cousin’ of Mr. Rijiju, came to his office in Shillong on December 29, 2015, and offered to help him with his promotion if the officer cleared his payments that were stuck for months. To support this, Mr. Verma submitted an audiotape to the tribunal.

Will not tolerate if my name is used: Rijju

When contacted, Mr. Rijiju, however, told The Hindu: “He [Goboi] is a distant cousin. Be it anyone, whether distant cousins or friends, will not tolerate if my name is used to get their works done. Anyway I will always ensure that my people don’t face hardship.”

The petition also contains a letter dated November 9, 2015, written by Mr. Rijiju to Power Minister Piyush Goyal seeking his intervention on the plea of people who transported boulders that their payment was “stopped at the behest of CVO, NEEPCO”.

‘Malicious act”

In a 1,100-page petition before the Guwahati Bench of the CAT challenging the Home Ministry charge sheet, Mr. Verma alleged that “the malicious acts are meant to victimise the applicant for doing the work that he did in two phases [September 2010 to January 2011, and July 2012 to June 2013] for investigating the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, and bringing to light the underlying ugly truth of the criminal conspiracy involving the high and mighty in both the Gujarat State and the Central Government.”

Mr. Verma said the then NEEPCO CMD, P.C Pankaj, was complicit in fraud involving a civil works contractors, Patel Engineering Ltd., which was fraudulently procuring boulders for dam construction and cheated the corporation through fake documents.

“NEEPCO went beyond the contract conditions and agreed to pay for transportation cost of the boulders, technically called ‘extra lead’ because of the extra distance of transportation. The contractor was getting boulders from some nearby places but billing NEEPCO as if boulders were being transported from much longer distances. The financial implication of this fraud was approximately Rs. 450 crore,” Mr. Verma said in the petition.

Mr. Pankaj, who retired in June, said, “I have nothing to do with his removal; it was done by the Union government. Once I had written to the government that he was moving to different locations without informing me. As far as the payment of the extra lead is concerned, it is misunderstood. It is decided by the Board. The Kameng project was stuck for long, government of Arunachal had given an approval to collect boulders from a river bound location.”

Mr. Verma mentions a joint venture of NEEPCO with a company, ECI, for wind power generation in Gujarat. The petition says ECI was chosen though it did not qualify as per the fundamental criterion of possessing the required land.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 9:11:27 AM |

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