Notice to trio for trident scam

The civic authorities on Friday decided to serve show-cause notices to a retired functionary and two senior officials for the alleged irregularities in the procurement of trident lights.

The mayoral council's decision surprised many as mayor Sovan Chatterjee had repeatedly denied any irregularity in the process, a stand chief minister Mamata Banerjee had publicly endorsed.

A second surprise was in store during the day as chief municipal auditor Biplab Guha Roy, based on whose recommendation the show-cause decision was taken, sought to be released from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, where he had come on deputation.

The show-cause notices have been served on retired director-general (lighting) Gautam Pattanayak, chief executive engineer (lighting) Monobrata Chaudhuri and executive engineer (zone 6) Basab Patra.

Pattanayak and Chaudhuri are under the scanner for their alleged role in determining the "fair rate (procurement rate)" of the tridents without consulting the CMC's central warehouse and not installing cheaper lamps produced by the Entally workshop of the civic body. The trident lamps of the Entally workshop were priced Rs 5,500 less than the ones procured from outside.

According to the allegation, the lapse had cost the civic exchequer at least Rs 10 crore extra.

Patra has been served the notice for his alleged non-co-operation during the audit by a private agency hired by the civic authorities.

"The note written by Guha Roy, who joined the CMC following a request from the mayor, made it clear that there were some irregularities in the procurement and installation of the trident lamps. As the government auditor had recommended action against those responsible for the irregularities, the mayor had to act despite his public stand," said a senior civic official.

The mayor refused to comment on the showcause-notices but hinted at the possibility of a fresh audit. "If necessary, we will go for another audit. If proper documents had not been provided, there might be another audit," Chatterjee told Metro.

"It is clear that the trident saga is far from over despite the chief minister giving a clean chit to the CMC. The controversy gets raked up almost every week. If pursued properly, more heads are likely to roll at the CMC as well as Writers'," said a senior civic official.

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