Patna (PTI): Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday laid foundation stones and launched work of…
Before the start of the final Test match in Delhi between India and South Africa, India’s champion opener Virender Sehwag was felicitated by the BCCI. Conspicuous by his absence at the ceremony was Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) president, Sneh Prakash Bansal. Now it seems his exclusion from the pre-match felicitation was more deliberate than accidental. Not without reason. Massive financial irregularities within the DDCA have caused a great deal of consternation among ex-players like Virender Sehwag and old timers like Kirti Azad and Bishen Singh Bedi.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun probing DDCA’s financial dealings after BJP MP Kirti Azad repeated representations to clean up its affairs. The Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi has set up a three-member committee to investigate bungling in DDCA. To start with, the reconstruction of the stadium is riddled with evident financial malpractices and contracts worth millions given to ghost contractors.
The contract for the reconstruction of the stadium was awarded by DDCA to the government-owned Engineers Projects India Limited (EPIL) on May 12, 2003. The project was to be completed by September 2004 at a cost of Rs 24 crore. The DDCA subsequently added civil work including additional tiers in the stands, construction of corporate boxes and renovation of old pavilions. This led to the work being completed by the government company on December 15, 2008 at a revised cost of Rs 58 crore.
This is when things started getting murky at the Ferzoshah Kotla. Although, the work was officially deemed complete after a delay of almost four years, DDCA officials went on a contract awarding spree to various private companies for work that should have been included in the original project cost. Among other things, contracts were given for more ‘civil work’, electric work, interiors and installing generators.
THE GHOSTS OF KOTLA’S RECONSTRUCTION
Although all the civil work was to be done by the government-owned contractor EPIL, the DDCA gave contracts for the same work to some other companies. One of them which bagged lucrative contracts was a company named Kaushnik Buildcast Private Ltd and a related entity named Kaushnik Fab. Both were given contracts worth Rs 11 crore for ‘data cabling’ and ‘interior work.’ The DDCA had officially declared the completion of the stadium on December 15, 2008. Documents show that Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd was a company that was incorporated on June 29, 2009 – a good six months after the construction was declared complete! A company which wasn’t even in existence at the time of reconstruction was therefore given contracts worth over Rs 11 crore. Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd turned out to be a front company with a fake address. Both of its directors – Kaushik Kumar and his wife Nikita Binod had mentioned an address in East Delhi where the company’s whereabouts couldn’t be found. When dna called up their former lawyer Sanjeev Kashyap, he said, “I was only helping them in 2012 when they were involved in income tax cases. They seemed to be a highly educated couple to me and looked like influential builders. I spoke to them around 10 days back to ask them for my money due since 2012. They told me they were in Patna and would remit it in a few days.”
DDCA PRESIDENT ROUTED MONEY THROUGH KAUSHNIK?
Documents show that Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd was receiving several crores not just from the DDCA, but also from some of its office-bearers including through a company owned by its president Sneh Kumar Bansal. In, 2010, its first year of operation, it received Rs 1.5 crore from the DDCA. The next year, it received an amount of Rs 4.5 crore from Ratan Industries Ltd. This company is owned by none other than DDCA president Sneh Kumar Bansal. When asked why his company had lent money to a dubious DDCA contractor, Bansal denied having ever been privy to the transaction. “You show me the documents. I completely deny having ever carried out the transaction,” Bansal told dna. What is more perplexing is that the payments from DDCA to Kaushnik Buildcast did not stop even after both entities had stopped filing their balance sheets with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). An inspection team of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) led by Deputy Director S.K Saxena carried out a scrutiny of DDCA’s financial dealings. In their correspondence with DDCA (Inspection Note No. 53), Saxena asked DDCA the rationale behind giving further contracts to Kaushnik Buildcast and other companies when the work had already been completed by EPIL, the government contractor. DDCA’s Chief Administrator Pankaj Bharadwaj replied on October 19, 2012, “EPIL had to leave due to technical and time factors of their own company. You will appreciate that the stadium was a prestigious project for DDCA and the cricketing community of Delhi-NCR.” During the entire duration when payments were made to Kaushnik Buildcast, Bansal was part of the DDCA’s executive committee. “No work was done for all the money that was paid to Kaushnik Buildcast. It wasn’t just Bansal, but a coterie of other DDCA members who were involved in doling out contracts. They were aided in their bungling by their auditors” says Sameer Bahadur of NCT Cricket Association, a body which along with former cricketer and MP Kirti Azad had requested for a CBI probe into the DDCA’s affairs. “The various scams in which hundreds of crores was literally swindled by DDCA office- bearers has become a sore thumb. Several inquiries confirmed massive defalcations and round tripping of money and mismanagement” says BJP MP Kirti Azad.
NOT JUST THE DDCA PRESIDENT
Bansal wasn’t the only DDCA official whose precedents surface in the books of Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd. Ajay Kumar Chaurasia is a civil engineer with the DDCA. In 2011, Chaurasia along with his wife Deepmala had pumped in close to Rs 6 lakh into Kaushnik. A company by the name of Metro Solutions Pvt Ltd is also shown to have given Rs 10 lakh. But Chaurasia is shown as more than just a DDCA engineer. In revelations to their auditor, the owners of Kaushnik Buildcast describe the Chauarsias as their “friends and relatives” while Metro Solutions Pvt Ltd is declared as being owned by the DDCA engineer. There are other instances where the company is seen pumping several lakhs into Kaushnik Buildcast. The surfacing of Chaurasia’s name in the books of Kaushnik Buildcast though hasn’t surprised many. DDCA’s own Fact Finding Enquiry Committee stated that when Chauarasia was called by the Committee “he stopped coming to office.” It goes on to read, “When a notice was served at his residence, he vanished from there also. After some efforts he appeared before the Committee but refused to disclose anything and refused to produce records.” Sunil Jain, a DDCA official who was the Chairman of the committee says, “His conduct was very suspicious. He was the man responsible for making all the bills but he behaved very strangely.”