Costs inflated, projects given to PM's pals: Cong attacks govt over CAG’s report on Bharatmala project

"Despite being completely unqualified to bid, Adani Transport once again benefited from Modi's magic. The NHAI on 20 February 2019 awarded the project," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said

Businessman Gautam Adani (left) has a warm handshake with PM Modi (Photo: Getty Images)
Businessman Gautam Adani (left) has a warm handshake with PM Modi (Photo: Getty Images)

NH Digital

The Congress on Sunday attacked the BJP-led government over the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on Bharatmala Pariyojana, saying that the projects were handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's close friends.

“Bharatmala Pariyojana is aimed at developing 35,000 km of national highways to make freight movement across the country more efficient. Yet, the most remarkable features of the project have been the efficiency with which costs have been inflated and projects handed over to the Prime Minister's close friends and his party's electoral bond donors, as shown in a recent CAG report covering the period 2017-21,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.

“The Union government's National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) awarded a 250 km project to four-lane the national highway between Suryapet and Khammam in Telangana to a consortium in which Adani Transport was the dominant partner with a 74 per cent work share.

“According to the CAG, Adani did not fulfil the condition of Request for Proposal regarding experience of five years building highways. Instead, the company provided an experience certificate in the name of a different company, and that too in a different sector from road-building i.e. power. Even the certificate showing that the consortium had a net worth of Rs 304 crore was in the name of a different company.

“Despite being completely unqualified to bid, Adani Transport once again benefited from Modi's magic. NHAI declared on 20 February 2019 that Adani was qualified to bid (without giving reasons) and awarded the project to the Adani-led consortium on 8 March 2019 at a cost of Rs 1,566 crore.

“Under the hybrid annuity model the Adani consortium received 40 per cent of the project amount as a direct cash subsidy, even though it was never actually qualified to bid. Other projects were awarded to one firm with strong BJP links and to four other firms that have been major donors to the BJP, as shown in the party's own financial statements,” the parliamentarian said in a statement.

Ramesh also posed a volley of questions to the government in this regard.

“Is there not a quid pro quo behind the award of these projects by the Modi government-controlled NHAI? Will the BJP release its entire list of donors in the last nine years? Is there no limit to the favouritism that the PM will bestow upon his close friends, colleagues and financiers when it comes to lucrative infrastructure contracts?” the MP said.

He also asked are Indian taxpayers funds simply meant to line the pockets of the “PM and his friends.”

“The CAG, whose reports the media once used to breathlessly report, has shed light on deep seated corruption in the Modi government. As we have repeatedly demanded, only a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) can unravel the full extent of the Adani mega scam in multiple sectors.”

Congress on Thursday demanded for a JPC into fresh allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds and claimed that India’s reputation is at stake.

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