Public interest litigation in construction case of Pune-Satara Highway-4
Mumbai: The central government had in 2013 amended the rules to prohibit toll collection till the completion of work on the projects where six projects are stalled. Even after that, while the six-laning work of National Highway-4 at Pune-Satara was incomplete, toll was collected from Reliance Infrastructure at Khed Shivapur and Anewadi toll plazas. “It is illegal and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be ordered to file a case of fraud,” a public interest litigation has been filed in the high court.
Add. The PIL was filed by Praveen Vategaonkar and Sanjay Shirodkar before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta on Wednesday. According to the petition, the highway was given to Reliance Infrastructure in 2010 for 24 years for six lanes with toll collection rights. As per the agreement, the work was expected to be completed in two and a half years by March 2013. But this work has not been completed till January 2020. In December 2013, the central government amended the rules to stall six projects. In those projects, toll collection was prohibited till the work was completed. However, from January 1, 2014 until the complaint was lodged with the CBI – that is, by January 2020, the company did not complete the work and illegal toll was collected.
It was also pointed out in the complaint to the CBI that the loans taken from the banks were diverted to mutual funds. The petitioners claim that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has also mentioned this in their report. Therefore, the court should order the CBI to file a case. The petitioners have also sought an order to file an offense under the Prevention of Financial Misconduct Act in this case.
‘Ask government for clarification’
The CBI has asked the state government to allow it to file a case in the wake of the complaint. But even after four months, the government has not responded. Therefore, an order should be sought to seek clarification from the state government regarding this delay, ‘a petition has also been filed.