Banking entirely on a draft letter from the principal accountant general to the government on certain undue favour shown to contractor in construction of the Gurupriya Bridge, the Congress and BJP dubbed it as a scam of over Rs 74 crore.

It may be noted that recently chief minister Naveen Patnaik had inaugurated the bridge billed as historic as it was for the first time since independence that over 150 villages who had remained cut off from the mainland were connected.

The word cut-off was deleted and development work expedited said the CM before announcing a special package of Rs 100 crore to the uplift of these villages. The opening of the bridge drew praise from all quarters on the social media.

Behind all the hype is the huge scam remarked OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik on Wednesday… Around Rs.74 crore has been paid in excess to the contractor company fraudulently, Principal Accountant General (PAG) has opined.

When the state government is time and again propagating that it is perusing everything in a transparent way, it has to now explain how such favours were given to the contractor, said the OPCC chief while demanding a CBI probe. The Congress chief from Dal to Mining, Chit fund and so on, the BJD government has been neck deep in corruption and has tarnished the image of the state.

The bridge was inaugurated on 26 July by the Chief Minister. Before that Dy. PAG Mr M Sridhar had written to the Secretary, Works, Govt. of Odisha that the OPWD norms has been violated during preparation of Estimate for construction of the bridge. The letter is dated 16 July, pointed out the Congress chief.

Works department got technical approval of Rs.104.38 crore for Malkangiri-Janabai connecting road. Later the estimate was hiked to Rs.115.80 crore. The maintenance of the bridge for 5 years was included in the estimate. But the estimate again revised to Rs 174.58 crore by 2017 September. The BJP too held a press conference here on Wednesday listing out the points raised by the auditor.

There is no such provision in OPWD code that Rs 24 crore can be alloted at a time for fuel to be consumed by boats and other expenses. Also there was no such provision in 2016 AOR.

The BJP recalled that in 2006 the bridge project was to be taken up at Rs 46 crore, the contractor Gammon India was awarded the work but it subsequently had sought Rs 90 crore.

A committee headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik rejected the plea in February 2010, said the BJP. Referring to the draft PAG letter, the BJP said, the CM who was unwilling to pay Rs 90 crore to Gammon India in 2010 has now provided for over Rs 174 crore to a contractor and excess payments of over Rs 74 crore has been made.

This smacks of corruption and the unholy nexus between contractors and the BJD has been exposed, charged the BJP. BJD sources rebutted the charges saying both the Congress and BJP have become desperate as the CM had earned accolades from across the nation for the bridge connection over 150 villages which was a historic step.

The BJD also noted that the Congress and BJP are well aware of such draft reports which are sent for clarifications to concerned departments before the final CAG report is placed in the Assembly.