All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and RTI activists have set January 30 as the deadline for the state government to cancel the residential and commercial building project at Jorhat public bus terminus under the Jorhat Development Authority.

The project is located at the Jorhat public bus terminus in the Kotoky Pukhuri area of Jorhat.

The warning comes after the report of the committee, constituted by the Jorhat deputy commissioner to probe irregularities in awarding the contract to a private builder, found several violations, committed by the Jorhat Development Authority (JDA).

The Jorhat deputy commissioner constituted the probe panel on December 5, 2020.

The four-member committee was led by additional deputy commissioner Biswajit Phukan, to inquire into the charges of irregularities and anomalies that came up against the JDA for initiating the said project.

Addressing newspersons at Jorhat on Thursday, RTI-activists-cum lawyers led by Rintu Goswami quoted from the findings of the probe report, submitted to the DC two days back, pointed out the several violations of rules committed by the JDA while proposing and going ahead with the project.

The execution of the project was kept in abeyance by the Jorhat DC after ordering the inquiry.

Goswami said their charge against the JDA of not obtaining prior approval of the government to undertake the project was vindicated by the inquiry report.

Goswami said the report pointed out violations of the Country and Town Planning Act in initiating the project as without approval of the government no other activity could be undertaken on a plot allotted for a specific purpose by the government.

In this instance, the plot was allotted to JDA to construct only a public bus terminus.

Further quoting from the probe report, Goswami pointed out flouting of rules by JDA and issuing of a “re-tender” to award the project, which was actually done in a manner that resembled calling for ideas by issuing an Expression of Interest.

Moreover, the said re-tender was not published in newspapers and government websites as per rules but was uploaded only on the JDA website.

The report also mentioned that the decision to undertake the project was not done as per procedures discussed at the Board meeting of the JDA held on March 7, 2020.

Demanding scrapping of the project that they said was against the public interest having a mala fide intention, the AASU and Goswami, supported by a group of RTI-activists, lawyers and several organizations, sought removal of the JDA chairman.

They threatened to launch a mass stir if the government does not cancel the project and remove Prasanta Jyoti Goswami from JDA in the light of gross violations committed by him as chairman of the Authority.

Rintu Goswami further disclosed that the JDA chairman was on interim bail granted by the Gauhati High Court after a Jorhat resident last month filed a criminal case against him in the police station accusing him of committing anomalies in initiating the said project.

The RTI-activists-cum lawyers had written letters to the Prime Minister, Assam chief minister, Assembly Speaker, urging the cancellation of the project citing that the project was against public interest and was being done without proper approval of the government.

Over 10 more organizations including AASU, Raijor Dal, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) also opposed the project and staged protests seeking its cancellation.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com