AASU, RTI activists set scrapping deadline

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JDA project: Probe panel finds irregularities

HT Correspondent

JORHAT, Jan 7: All Assam Students Union (AASU) and RTI activists have set January 30 as the deadline for the state government to cancel the residential and commercial buildings project at the Jorhat Public Bus Terminus at Kotoky Pukhuri area here by the Jorhat Development Authority (JDA).

The warning came after the report of the committee constituted by the deputy commissioner to probe whether irregularities had been committed in awarding the contract to a private builder, actually found several violations had been committed by the JDA.

They had also sought the removal of the incumbent JDA chairman Prasanta Jyoti Goswami from the post after Jorhat deputy commissioner had constituted the prophet panel on December 5, 2020.

The four-member committee was led by additional deputy commissioner Biswajit Phukan, to inquire into charges of irregularities and anomalies that came up against the JDA for initiating the said project.

Addressing newspersons here on Thursday, RTI-activists-cum lawyers led by Rintu Goswami quoted from the findings of the probe report that was submitted to the DC two days back, and pointed out the several violations of rules committed by the JDA while proposing and going ahead with the project.

The execution of the project was kept in abeyance by the DC after ordering the inquiry.

Goswami said that their charge against the JDA of not obtaining prior approval of the government to undertake the project was vindicated by the inquiry report.

Goswami said that the report had pointed out violations of the Country and Town Planning Act in initiating the project as without approval of the government no other activity could be undertaken on a plot allotted for a specific purpose by the government. In this instance the plot was allotted to JDA to construct only a public bus terminus.

Further quoting from the probe report, Goswami pointed out flouting of rules by JDA and issuing of a ‘re-tender’ to award the project, which was actually done in a manner that resembled calling for ideas by issuing an Expression of Interest.

Moreover, the said re-tender was not published in newspapers and government websites as per rules, but was uploaded only in the JDA website.

The report also mentioned that the decision to undertake the project was not done as per procedure discussed at the board meeting of the JDA held in March 7, 2020.

Demanding scrapping of the project that they said was against the public interest and having a malafide intention, the AASU and Goswami, supported by a group of RTI-activists, lawyers and several organisations, also sought removal of the JDA chairman.

They threatened launching a mass stir if the Government did not cancel the project and remove Prasanta Jyoti Goswami from JDA’ post in the light of gross violations committed by him as chairman of the authority.

Rintu Goswami further disclosed that JDA chairman was on interim bail granted by the Gauhati High Court after a Jorhat resident last month filed a criminal case against him in the police station accusing him of committing anomalies in initiating the said project.

The RTI-activists-cum lawyers, had written letters to the Prime Minister, chief minister, assembly speaker urging cancellation of the project citing the project was against public interest and was being done without proper approval of the government.

Over ten more organisations that included AASU, Raijor Dal, KMSS also opposed the project and staged protests seeking its cancellation.

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