Chandra Bose was among Corporation contractors who alleged that “package tenders” were given to certain people favoured by SP Velumani.

Video Did Chennai corp officials plant evidence to intimidate whistleblowerScreenshot
news Corruption Sunday, February 23, 2020 - 19:19

Did Chennai Corporation officials try to create evidence in order to silence a whistleblower? Sharing CCTV footage captured outside Corporation contractor Chandra Bose’s house in Kolathur on February 4, Jayaram, the founder of civic activism group Arappor Iyakkam, has now alleged that Corporation officials tried to create false evidence by posting predated eviction notices outside Bose's residence.

CCTV footage from Bose’s street has captured Corporation officials arriving at his doorstep on February 4, posting a notice on the gate, clicking a few photographs and removing the posted notice before leaving. Jayaram identifies one officer as a Junior Engineer in Ward 65 of Greater Chennai Corporation.

Bose is a key testifier in Arappor Iyakkam’s ongoing case against Minister for Municipal Administration SP Velumani and Chennai Corporation officials, three notices have been issued to Chandra Bose. He is among the many Corporation contractors who had alleged that “package tenders” were given to certain favoured contractors alone, allegedly by some corrupt authorities of the Chennai Corporation.

According to Jayaram, three notices — a de-occupation notice (dated February 4, 2020), a lock-and-seal and demolition notice (dated January 29, 2019) and a call for plan notice (dated January 1, 2019) — arrived on the doorsteps of Chandra Bose’s residence and another property in Chennai’s Kolathur area on February 5 and 6. While his residence is 17 years old, the other property was built in 2010.

“They do not have any evidence of having served the other two predated notices earlier. So to create evidence they have done this on February 4,” Jayaram explains referring to the CCTV footage. While an interim stay is now in place, the case to quash the notices will next be heard on February 24, Monday.

Explaining the on-going case in which Bose is key witness and a whistleblower, Jayaram says, “There are two cases - one against the Minister and his close aid, and another against a group of contractors in Chennai Corporation with respect to laying roads and stormwater drains. Bose has appeared before the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) and has given a statement against Minister Velumani’s close aid on how he controls tender processes.”

Now, with Bose being a key evidence in both these cases, Jayaram claims the officials have issued these notices with an intent to silence him. “These are fabricated records and predated,” he alleges.

Speaking to TNM, Chandra Bose claims to have been facing threats since he made the allegations in 2018. The allegations gained voice following Arappor Iyakkam’s exposé in 2019, stating that Corporation tenders were awarded to a syndicate of six contractors owned and operated by people close to SP Velumani.

“They have made threats to my life and also threatened to kidnap my daughter. I have not paid heed to these threats and continued to speak against them,” he claims.

The government however told the court last month that the probe against Velumani was closed as per a Vigilance report.

Previously, on January 31 this year, Bose had brought to the attention of Chennai Police Commissioner the presence of bouncers in Madhavaram area, where boxes were placed to collect Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) or down payment from contractors for road-laying tender floated by the Chennai Corporation. 

“Prior to 2018, the practice was that we had to submit the EDM to the Corporation official in person. But he would refuse to accept it, thus forcing us to raise a complaint. Soon after, tender collection boxes were placed in the offices and since the officer could not intervene directly, bouncers and goons were made to stand outside to intimidate us from submitting our EDMs. I brought this to everyone’s notice, but I am being threatened now,” he claims.

With respect to filing EDMs for Corporation tenders, Bose insists that it should be made online. “If we have to bring some transparency to the process and ensure people’s money is not looted, EDMs should be collected online,” says the contractor who has been in business for over 20 years.

On February 18, the Madras High Court ordered an interim stay against the eviction notices issued to Bose. “However, it cannot be denied that this is happening with the support of higher officials in the government,” Jayaram adds.

Bose, along with Jayaram, has written to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), seeking protection. “DVAC should transfer those accused of corruption to posts where they don’t misuse their power,” Jayaram says.

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