Lucknow airport scam: CBI wants to quiz AAI chief, awaits aviation ministry nod
For the last three months, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been waiting for a nod from the Civil Aviation Ministry to conduct investigation against Airport Authority of India (AAI) chairman VP Agrawal in a case of irregularities in the construction of the new terminal of Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport at Lucknow.
The agency had sought the ministry's permission because approval from the central government is needed to conduct an inquiry against government officials of the rank of joint secretary and above.
The agency has found that sub-standard material was used in construction, higher material rates were quoted and fake bills were passed, causing a loss of Rs 1 crore to exchequer.
"In 2007-08, when the irregularities took place, Agarwal was Member (Planning) of AAI and he was responsible to prepare the project, check its financial viability and feasibility," said a CBI officer.
"We want to confront Agarwal with the evidence we have gathered," the officer added. The central agency had informally questioned Agarwal in May.
In September 2010, the anti-corruption branch of the CBI in Lucknow had registered a case of criminal conspiracy and fraud against three senior managers (civil) of the AAI and other unnamed persons. The three AAI officials were PK Jain, Alokesh Vishwas, and Anupam Verma. In April, the agency conducted search at their houses. In June, the agency sent a letter to ministry, giving details of the case, and seeking permission to investigate Agrawal.
The agency had recorded statements of over 50 persons, including AAI employees, and officials of Agra-based PNC Infratech Limited, which was given the contract of Rs 40 crore for the construction of two new taxiways and expansion and strengthening of the apron in 2007.
The work was to be completed by September, 2008 but was actually concluded in November, 2009. In January, the CBI received a complaint of irregularities and a preliminary inquiry was conducted. The agency found that officials of AAI officials and the private firm were involved in a criminal conspiracy and had allegedly inflated the estimated cost of the projects. On the basis of the inquiry, the case was lodged.
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