Jharkhand government embezzles Nirbhaya fund that was to be used in road safety project.

The state transport department has recently carried out a corrupt act by misappropriating a project under Nirbhaya fund amounting to Rs 9-crore for women’s safety by granting it to a Mumbai-based company, which presented fake work profile, claimed a road safety activist attached with the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), a wing of the central Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

Road safety activist Kamaljeet Singh said, the state transport department conducted the illegal money scam with three Mumbai-based firms and granted the project through unlawful means. The fund was supposed to serve women’s safety and security purposes which now lays foiled due to this corrupt act.

During a press conference which took place on Saturday, Singh, also a member of the European Association for Accident Research and Analysis, stated, “Three firms, namely M/s Paras Infra, M/s Pragati Enterprises, and M/s Konark Structural Engineers, were shortlisted by the technical committee of the transport department.” He further added, “The committee completed the evaluation of bids during a meeting held on April 8 this year. The meeting was presided by transport commissioner Kiran Kumari Pasi during which M/s Paras Infra was selected for the project. However, the company had submitted forged documents for its experience certificate and they were ignored by the transport department officials.”

The project is assisted by MoRTH under the Nirbhaya Fund for women’s safety and security while using public vehicles. The project is devised for the development, customization, deployment, and management of a statewide vehicle tracking system. The advanced technology is to be enabled in all public passenger transport vehicles with vehicle location tracking (VLT) devices and emergency buttons that can be used for warning alarms.

Furthermore, Singh said that RTI responses from the public sector units- Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), and Gas Authority of India Limited (Gail)- declared that neither of these Mumbai based firms, which qualified for the technical evaluation, had ever been engaged by the aforementioned PSUs for their work in vehicle tracking devices. All three companies, as proof of their work experience, had put forward documents of these petroleum and gas companies as having worked for the PSUs.

Whilst HPCL claimed to have not issued any work order valued at Rs 6.19 crore to M/s Paras Infra as the latter claimed in its bid, another RTI reply from IOCL stated that no work order of Rs 6.97 crore for Vehicle tracking system was ever granted to M/s Paras Infra, said Singh, posted in Ludhiana and Delhi and attached with the NRSC as a consultant. Meanwhile, the other two companies have also propounded work experience related to Vehicle tracking systems with CPCL and GAIL. In their response to the RTI query, GAIL stated that no work order was passed to M/s Pragati Infra worth Rs 8.97 crore, and CPCL also disproved of giving any contract to M/s Konark Structural Engineers relating to vehicle tracking system, he claimed.

Additionally, Singh said, “I have been working on the issue of road safety for the last two decades and the wrongdoings of the state transport department are going to affect the safety of women and children on the roads. How can I let that go? I had also raised the issue here during my last visit but the government hasn’t taken any cognizance.” Moreover, Transport commissioner, Kiran Kumari Pasi was unavailable for answer on the charges.

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