GUWAHATI, July 19 - Reports of an American company paying bribes to government functionaries in Assam and Goa to get jobs as consultants to water supply projects caused ripples in the State and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has assured that if any substantial allegation against the Assam Government comes to light, a probe would be ordered.
Meanwhile, the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has made it clear that the consultant for the project was selected by the Guwahati Development Department (GDD).
It is reported that an American Company � Louis Berger � paid bribes to government functionaries in Goa and Assam to get jobs as consultants in implementation of water supply projects. The project concerned in Assam is the Guwahati Water Supply project being implemented by the GMDA with funds received under the Japan International Cooperation Scheme. The original grant under the scheme was around Rs 1,500 crore but later the amount increased due to devaluation of the Rupee.
When contacted by The Assam Tribune, the Chief Minister said so far he had only seen media reports and it would be difficult for him to order a probe on the basis of the same. He, however, assured that the government would examine the matter and if any substantial allegation is received, a probe would be ordered.
GMDA chairman Dhiren Baruah said that the GMDA cannot be blamed for the selection of consultant for the project. He said that the consultant was selected by the Guwahati Development Department and the GMDA was not aware of the process of selection. He asserted that there was no record in the GMDA on the process of selection of consultants.
Baruah said that at the time when the consultant was selected, Himanta Biswa Sarma was the Minister in charge of the Guwahati Development Department, while Ashis Bhutani was the secretary of the Department. They would be in the best position to say how the consultant was selected, he added.
Meanwhile, the State unit of the BJP has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident. State BJP spokesman Bijon Mahajan told this newspaper that corruption has become the order of the day during the regime of Tarun Gogoi-led Congress Government. Over the years, Gogoi has been falsely promising a transparent and corruption-free government to the people and it is time for him to prove his seriousness by instituting a CBI probe. Whosoever is responsible should be brought to book, he maintained.
Mahajan further said, �The beauty of the criminal justice system in America is that it managed to catch those involved in giving bribes to someone in a foreign country. But unfortunately, in Assam, where government functionaries have accepted bribes, no inquiry has yet been started.�
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has also demanded a CBI probe into the incident.