A six-member Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajiv Ranjan, which arrived in Guwahati, on Thursday questioned two Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) officials in connection with the Luis Berger scam.
The CBI team questioned GMDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rupak Kr Mazumdar and secretary Paragmoni Mahanta at GMDA in Bhangagarhn in connection with the bribery scam.
Earlier in the day, the CBI team met RTI activist and convener of Swaraj Asom Bhaben Handique, on the basis of whose PIL the Gauhati High Court directed the CBI to probe into the Luis Berger scam, at the DGP office in Ulubari.
The CBI officials Rajiv Ranjan and Avnish Kumar had a discussion over the issue for around one hour.
The Gauhati High Court had ordered the CBI on September 1, 2017 to take up the multi-crore Louis Berger corruption case on the basis of a PIL (No 85/2015) lodged in the HC by Bhaben Handique, an RTI activist and convener of Swaraj Asom.
As per a directive by the two-member bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising Chief Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Manojit Bhuyan, the CBI took up the case in September last year by filing a 40-page FIR against unknown officials for allegedly bribing the former Congress-led Government to fix the contract.
After filing the case, a CBI team visited Assam in October 12, 2017 and took statements of the petitioners (who filed a case in Dispur PS) and the Government official, who filed a case with the CID regarding the scam.
Bhaben Handique also submitted some related documents required by the CBI team.
Talking to the media after meeting the CBI team on Wednesday, Handique said, “Though I was personally unhappy over the progress of the probe into the Luis Berger scam, after discussion with the CBI team today, I have understood that the case has progressed to some extent.”
He also said, “If the investigation does not bring in the top level Government officials and political leaders, minister, who names have surfaced in the scam, the probe into Luis Berger scam would remain incomplete.”
Handique demanded that the people involved in the scam be brought under the ambit of the investigation and punished as per law.
The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) had awarded a contract to Louis Berger in 2010 to manage three water supply projects in the city. The water supply projects were funded by Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Himanta Biswa Sarma, the then minister for Guwahati Development Department, under which GMDA functions, blame each other for giving the contract to Louis Berger.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who joined the BJP in 2015 and now the Finance Minister, said the latest Gauhati High Court order regarding the Louis Berger scam did not mention involvement of any minister in the case.
RTI activist Handique, who also collected documents in connection with the case from the US Department of Justice and FBI, claimed, “We have already submitted documents, which we had received from the United States Department of Justice and FBI regarding the case, to the CBI through email in June last.”
He also claimed the the CBI has already quizzed then Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Secretary, Ashish Kumar Bhutani, in Delhi in connection with the case.