Goa scraps controversial number plate contract to Delhi firm

Friday, January 28, 2011

PANAJI - After dilly-dallying for nearly a year, the Goa government Friday scrapped a controversial agreement signed with a Delhi-based firm for providing high security number plate (HSNP) for motor vehicles in Goa.

The decision was taken after a high-level committee admitted that there were major discrepancies in awarding of the contract. The opposition had claimed that one of the directors of the firm was linked to jailed gangster from Uttar Pradesh - Babloo Srivastva.

The formal decision to scrap the contract comes ahead of the Goa legislative assembly session which is due to begin Jan 31. The opposition had threatened to take the government to task for non-cancellation of the contract, in which a former minister and Congress legislator Pandurang Madkaikar and transport department officials had allegedly received kickbacks.

State director of transport Arun Desai said the decision to scrap the contract had been taken after Delhi-based firm Ms Shimnith Utsch Private Ltd had failed to respond to a show cause notice, sent to it by the state government.

“The high-level committee had made note of several discrepancies in the awarding of the contract. We had sent the company a show cause notice to which there has been no response. Therefore, the contract stands cancelled,” Desai told reporters.

The issue of irregularities in awarding the contract to M/s Shimnith Utsch had rocked the state assembly for three sessions in a row, with the opposition alleging that crores of rupees were given as kickbacks to bureaucrats and officials to clinch the deal.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar, quoting the official rate-list for affixing the HSNP, had alleged that the Delhi-based firm was overcharging Goan vehicle owners by nearly 100 percent than the current market rates for fabricating and affixing the number plates.

Parrikar had also alleged on the floor of the house that one of the directors of Shimnith Utsch Nitin Shah was linked to Uttar Pradesh-based gangster Babloo Srivastava.

“The company’s director Nitin Shah has been convicted along with Babloo Srivastava. The case is still pending in Supreme Court. Can you imagine this? The HSNP contract has been given to the same person who has been previously booked under Section 302 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) along with don Babloo Srivastava,” Parrikar had said in the monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly.

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