On Sunday, the Congress attacked the BJP-led central government over a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Bharatmala Pariyojana, alleging that the projects were handed over to the close friends of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “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.”
In a statement, the parliamentarian 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.”
He added, “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.”
In this regard, Ramesh also fired a volley of questions at the government at the Centre. “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? 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?” the MP said.
He also wanted to know if the funds of Indian taxpayers simply meant to line the pockets of the “Prime Minister and his friends”?
“As we have repeatedly demanded, only a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) can unravel the full extent of the Adani mega scam in multiple sectors. The CAG, whose reports the media once used to breathlessly report, has shed light on deep seated corruption in the Modi government,” the veteran Congress leader posited.
On Thursday, the Congress claimed that India’s reputation is at stake and demanded for a JPC into new allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds.