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Forged transport bills: 4 Colonels in CBI net
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Investigations by the CBI into the alleged scam concerning hiring of civilian transport vehicles by the Army have revealed forging of bills and inflation of rates on a large scale.

Besides having registered a case against a Colonel commanding a transport company through which the vehicles were hired, the CBI now seeks to investigate the role of at least four Colonels, including the aforementioned colonel’s predecessors, in the scam.

“Bills have been found to be highly inflated in point of kilometres shown covered by the vehicles provided to the Army, car diaries have been found to be forged and large scale false and fabricated billing has been done to cause wrongful loss to the government,” a document prepared by the CBI revealed.

“Trucks shown used for transportation have been found to be other vehicles like two-wheelers, tractors, etc., which cannot be used for ferrying military personnel and material,” the document added. The CBI had raided the transport company on July 20 and had taken into its custody over 150 bills and other documents.

It was revealed that a vehicle shown to be a truck in one of the bills was actually a scooter registered in the name of one of the accused contractors. There were instances where bills for trailers apparently hired to ferry tanks to Chennai contain vehicle numbers belonging to scooters. What had also come to light during the investigations was that authorised/lowest-bid contractors were bypassed and ad hoc hiring of vehicles was done from other transporters.

Army sources revealed another instance where two trailers were supposed to have been hired to ferry tracked vehicles to Sumdo in Himachal Pradesh for the purpose of testing the capability of the trailers, which were specially modified for the purpose. The bill, it was discovered, contained vehicle numbers of scooters.

The contracted rate for hiring a trailer, as issued by the ASC Branch in the Western Command, was Rs 60 per km. Copies of signed bills, some of which are in possession of The Tribune, mentioned rates varying from Rs 79 to Rs 119 per km, which is double the sanctioned rate.

One such signed bill claimed the distance travelled by a trailer truck from Ambala to Chennai to be in excess of 3,100 km. The Indian Distance Guide, referred to by the Controller of Defence Accounts and other establishments for verifying distances, mentions the distance between the two cities to be 2,286 km, almost a 1000 km less than what the Army was charged for.

Meanwhile, a local court at Ambala today denied anticipatory bail to some of the transport contractors on the grounds that no criminal case was made out against them and disputes if any were of a civil nature.

The court was told by the CBI that the contractors concerned were still engaged in providing vehicles to the Army and certain facts of the case needed to be ascertained from them as investigations were still underway. The CBI also contended that the matter involved corruption at higher levels in the Army and custodial interrogation was required for breaking the nexus between Army officers and contractors.

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