Maharashtra: PWD reimbursing fake bills worth crores says BJP

The BJP on Friday accused the Uddhav Thackeray government of making payments towards fake bills worth several crores.

Training guns at the Congress-led Public Works Department (PWD), BJP MLA Atul Bhatkalkar revisited a Rs 113-crore fake bills scam, which had infamously rocked the department in 2012 and alleged that the same “bogus bills” were now being cleared.

In 2012, when the Congress and NCP government was in power, a scam had come to light revealing that senior officials in PWD’s south Mumbai division – also known as the Presidency Division – had colluded with contractors to use bogus bills to issue cheques to fraudulently withdraw Rs 113 crore from government accounts.

An FIR was lodged into the matter in 2012 at the Azad Maidan police station, naming two senior PWD officials. After coming to power, the BJP-led regime had stopped payments for these bills, but failed to complete the investigation into the matter.

Bhatkalkar alleged that several bills had been cleared in the last two months. In a press conference, he presented bills with paid stamps to make his point.

Refuting the allegation, the PWD, in an official statement, said that only valid bills were being cleared. “No fake bills are being reimbursed,” it said. It, however, added, “If the MLA has specific information regarding any wrongdoing, the department is willing to verify it.”

Asked why the previous BJP regime had not initiated action in the case, Bhatkalkar said he didn’t know.

Alleging that payments of Rs 70 crore had already been made, the BJP MLA demanded “a proper inquiry in the matter”. He said that if the government doesn’t act soon, he will take the department to court.

“On one hand, the government claims to be struggling to make routine salary payments, and on the other, dubious bills that were put on hold are being cleared swiftly,” he alleged.