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  Metros   Mumbai  19 Nov 2018  Mumbai Mela embroiled in scam?

Mumbai Mela embroiled in scam?

Published : Nov 19, 2018, 1:24 am IST
Updated : Nov 19, 2018, 1:24 am IST

‘Questionable’ contract resulted in liability of Rs 20cr, letter claims.

According to the letter, a tender was issued on November 21, 2017 by the MTDC to appoint an agency to conduct the Mumbai Mela Shopping Festival for a period of one year (2018).
 According to the letter, a tender was issued on November 21, 2017 by the MTDC to appoint an agency to conduct the Mumbai Mela Shopping Festival for a period of one year (2018).

Mumbai: Controversy has struck the Mumbai Mela Shopping Festival. The Asian Age has a copy of a letter from the then-managing director of the Maharashtra Tourism Department Corporation (MTDC) Suhas Diwase to tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal alleging that the contract given to a private company to organise the event has ‘serious financial implications’. The contract was terminated after Mr Diwase found that the tender was invited for one year but the contract was awarded for five years.

According to the letter, which was written on October 9, 2018, Ashutosh Rathod, joint MD of MTDC, who was holding additional charge of MD of MTDC for the few days when the deal was struck, had allegedly ignored the observation of chief accounts officer (CAO) of the MTDC about the contract and signed an agreement for the period of five years, which resulted in creation of financial liability of more than Rs 20 crore to MTDC, causing wrongful loss to the government.

The state tourism department’s principal secretary, Vijay Kumar Gautam, has sought permission from tourism minister in October to file an FIR for criminal conspiracy against Mr Rathod, but nothing has happened in this regard so far.

Sources said that as the contract of five years was terminated in the first week of October, Mr Rawal’s private secretary had mailed to the then-MD on October 8 directing him “not to take any hasty decision, biased or guided, having impact both financial and on policy for the development of the MTDC with respect to M/s Oaks Management Pvt. Ltd.”

Replying to the mail, Mr Diwase stated in the letter that the five-year contract agreement was prepared without soliciting any advice from legal counsel or the law and judiciary department. Moreover, the decision to cancel the contract was taken considering legal implications as well as Central Vigilance Commission guidelines.  

The letter reads that the entire episode “clearly showcases gross violation of the bidding process and purposeful intent to favour M/s Oaks. This would also amount to criminal conspiracy serious financial implications for MTDC and a burden on the public exchequer”.  The letter further reads, “I (Diwase) would strongly suggest that MTDC board of directors should take serious note and constitute a committee to investigate the role played by Mr Rathod in handling this particular contract and if required criminal proceedings are initiated against him.”   

Sources said that Mr Diwase’s predecessor, Vijay Waghmare, issued a show-cause notice to Mr Rathod in the first quarter of 2018, referring to this particular issue and a proposal for a departmental inquiry has already been sent to Mr Rathod’s parent department, higher and technical education.

When The Asian Age contacted Mr Rathod, he said, “Unless and until I peruse the information and papers concerned, I can’t tell you (about them) off hand. I need to peruse the papers. We handle day-to-day number of files. If you are asking me about any file, I need to peruse the paper first.”

This paper tried to contact Mr Rawal and the owner of M/s Oaks Management Pvt Ltd, Rahul Gomes, but they were not reachable at the time of going to press.   

Tags: mtdc, mumbai mela shopping festival