AAI officials accused in Kozhikode airport scam

AAI officials accused in Kozhikode airport scam

Two Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials, posted (but under suspension) at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) at present, are among the accused in the Kozhikode airport runway scam, which has put millions of air passengers’ life in danger.

According to sources in the CBI, the charge sheet mentions Prakash Kanchager, who holds a senior position at KIA, as the first accused, while L Sridhar, another official posted here, has been named the second accused. They allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy and manipulated documents for profit.

The CBI has been probing a case of cheating the Government of India to the tune of Rs 2.18 crore by a Delhi-based company, B R Arora and Associates. Lives of millions of air passengers were put at risk due to the poor quality of the runway. Resurfacing work on the runway was done by the firm in 2007-08.

Sources said Prakash and Sridhar are among the four AAI officials who were working at Kozhikode airport. The investigating agency believes that there are six others who hatched a criminal conspiracy to compromise on the quality of material used to strengthen the runway at Calicut airport.

The accused, sources said, presented false invoices and forged documents to make profits and bribe the AAI officials.

Sources said besides Prakash and Sridhar, others named in the charge sheet are Bino Babu of the AAI, B R Arora and Associates (BRAA), B R Arora, Managing Director, BRAA, Madhu Nair, Director, BRAA, Dhirendra Singh, project engineer, BRAA, Raman Sharma, project engineer, BRAA, Jayakumar, project manager, BRAA and M P Santosh.

The resurfaced runway, sources said, has already developed cracks. The project, taken up in 2007-08, was supposed to cost Rs 23 crore. The accused made false invoices stolen from Indian Oil corporation, Kolkata and made fake bills worth Rs 2.18 crore. A Maruti Estilo car and gold biscuits were among the goodies used as bribes. The CBI has said in the charge sheet that the company compromised on the quality of the material used to resurface the runway.

“Of the 4,500 tonne of bitumen that was to be used, only 3,700 tonne was used, reducing the quantity of bitumen by 30 per cent, compromising on the overall quality leading to cracks in the runway,” a source said, adding that only 5,500 bags of cement were used in place of 10,000 bags.

Besides compromising on the safety of passengers, the company also sold the unused bitumen to outside parties.

Speaking to Deccan Herald over phone, Krishna Kumar, SP, CBI Kochi, said: “We took up the case suo motu, based on intelligence that there were irregularities in the project. Thee AAI officials had conspired to prepare false invoices to show the use of bitumen and cement.” Incidentally, the same company has been awarded contracts for similar projects in Goa, Varanasi, Ranchi, Raipur and Coimbatore.

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