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August 15, 2015
Bitumen Scam in India - As Usual ?
R&B Minister says he is handing over the case of theft of 1000 tons of Bitumen (coal tar) to the Crime Branch. The theft was detected this summer when the government started macadamization of the flood-devastated roads.
“Compared to the last audit in the stores, we found 600 tons missing in Kashmir and nearly 400 tons in Jammu,” Altaf Bukhari said, adding that “this is not an ordinary loss.”
Bukhari said that the department concerned has been asked to initiate in-house investigations which will be followed by the case going to the police Crime Branch.
“We want to involve the police this week so that the accused are identified and punished,” Bukhari said. Stores department in Kashmir has placed services of three of its store-keepers under suspension. Action initiated by the Jammu wing was not immediately known.
Bukhari said this is not the only thing that has happened. “I have discovered that the Bitumen was purchased at a cost upward of Rs 60,000 per ton earlier while we purchased at a cost more than Rs 20,000 less,” Bukhari revealed.
Disappearance of the bitumen from the government stores was one factor for slight delay in the start of macadamization process. It was later procured both by private and public sector.
Under earlier system, the R&B department would issue Bitumen to the contractors for macadamization. Under the new system, they have to manage it on their own but ensure the macadamization is of the specifications that are mentioned in the job order.
“Once we sought a three-year guarantee from the contractors, the real issues started tumbling out,” Bukhari said, adding “now we have an answer to why the macadam was vanishing within a few months.”
He said that the process initiated by his government will ensure the roads repaired and improved do not become a mess again.