On Wednesday, a shocking scene unfolded at the Greater Chennai Corporation's Anna Nagar zonal office. It was around 11 am in the morning and D Kamaraj from JC Enterprises had come to the civic body's office to drop a demand draft for an open tender announced under the local MLA fund.
The project was to lay three roads in Villivakkam and was estimated to cost over Rs.50 lakh. All he had to do was drop his quotation into a box outside the Executive Engineer's office. But standing in the way between him and the box was Mani, a contractor who allegedly stated that Villivakkam MLA B Ranganathan had already promised him the contract.
"Mani and his son were present at the office and they asked me what I was doing there," explains Kamaraj. "When I told I had come to drop the DD, they immediately said that I cannot and that the selection for the tender was already over. They said it was a project from the MLA fund and that they had already spoken to the legislator. He even told me that he had given Rs.5 lakh to the MLA for the project already," he adds.
When Kamaraj tried to move past them to drop his envelopes, the contractor and his son stopped him. That is when Kamaraj began shooting a video.
Video evidence of how a contractor, Mani, tries to stop another contractor from depositing his DDs for a road laying project in Villivakkam. Mani had allegedly already 'fixed' the contract with the local MLA. This entire episode unfolded in a government office. @thenewsminute pic.twitter.com/EEECKFIbZ2— priyankathirumurthy (@priyankathiru) February 8, 2019
"You can't put the demand draft. You shouldn't put it. I have faced losses," Mani is heard saying in the video. Behind him, his son on a call and is telling the person on the other side that, 'They are creating problems here.'
He then hands over the phone to Kamaraj and says the MLA's person assistant is on the line. At this Kamaraj refuses to talk to him and approaches the box. Mani blocks his way, telling him that he cannot apply for the contract. He however finally manages to drop the envelopes into the box after much protest.
Speaking to TNM, H Chandrabose, the owner of JC enterprises says, "Already it was because of the clear lack of transparency that this box system was introduced. Earlier we would have to give it to the Executive Engineer and he would purposely not be around to take it. And now for projects under the MLA fund, it has become mandatory to give a 10% cut to the legislator."
Ironically, the DMK has approached the Madras High Court against Local Administrations Minister SP Velumani for irregularities in awarding contracts. They even sought an SIT probe in October 2018. When TNM contacted the concerned MLA over these allegations against him, he denied it.
This is fake news. The contractor alleging this is a fraud. What can we do about this? The contract is under the MLA fund but I have no connection to it. The video doesn't say he gave me money," claims the legislator. "I don't even have a PA," he adds
When TNM however points out that the contractor alleges an MLA is involved, Ranganathan says, "He says MLA in the video but he does not say who the MLA is."