Tax sleuths probe Games contractors, including BJP activist

New Delhi, Oct 19 (Calcutta Tube) Income tax officials Tuesday started search and investigative operations in some 30 premises of firms and individuals, including a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activist, who had won lucrative contracts for the Commonwealth Games.

Among those whose premises were visited by the tax sleuths was Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activist Sudhanshu Mittal whose relatives won some Games contracts, a senior official of the department said.

‘Let me clarify, these are search operations. The task assigned is to look into the books of accounts and related documents, examine the records and take custody of them, if necessary,’ the official told IANS.

‘We are searching for irregularities, if any, in execution of contracts. We are looking at all contractors. Whoever the contractor is, we are looking. I can’t name any specific company or person,’ the official added.

The search operations covered the premises of contractors in and around the national capital, as also Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

The BJP, however, sought to underplay the search operations at the premises of Mittal and reiterated its demand for a probe by a joint parliamentary committee, saying this was the only way the role of ministers and top officials can be scrutinised properly.

‘I don’t know anything about Mittal,’ BJP president Nitin Gadkari told reporters here, adding: ‘Our stand is very clear. Let every person involved be investigated and action taken against whoever found guilty.’

Gadkari also said the Prime Minister’s Office must answer allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games as it, along with the cabinet, had approved the budget for all the works relating to the Games amounting to Rs.70,000 crore ($15.5 billion).

‘How can they claim Rs.961 crore ($215 million) was spent on renovating the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium when renovations on similar lines elsewhere have cost no more than Rs.100 crore ($25 million),’ he said.

‘It is really a very big scam.’

The search operations Monday follow a host of measures announced by the government since the 12-day Games drew to a close Oct 14 to look into allegations of misappropriation of funds and questionable procedures followed for award of contracts for various projects.

Among the measures announced by the government, the tenure of officials associated with the Games was extended, even as the country’s top auditor said a report on its accounts and financial activities would be presented to parliament in three months.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also set up a high-level committee headed by former comptroller and auditor general V.K. Shunglu to look into all matters relating to the conduct and organisation of the Games.

The prime minister had also directed the ministries concerned to conduct a thorough investigations into all complaints received of procedural and other irregularities and said that those found guilty should face severe and exemplary punishment.

Among the various agencies conducting a probe are the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Directorate of Enforcement, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

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