New Delhi: National Highways Authority of India Chief General Manager SK Nirmal and General Manager Nitin Jain have been arrested by the CBI on corruption charges.
The NHAI scam comes just a few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that "corruption needs to be tackled".
Even though the Prime Minister has been promising zero tolerance against corruption, the skeletons continue to tumble out. Now the NHAI is under the scanner with Nirmal and Jain arrested on charges of corruption and conspiracy.
The Congress has stressed the need for cleansing NHAI.
"It's a part of anti-corruption drive. If something going wrong, steps need to be taken," says Congress MP and party spokesperson Manish Tewari.
But the Ministry of Road and Surface Transport, under which NHAI falls, feels that the arrests are isolated incidents.
Sources say that the Ministry has concluded after preliminary enquiry that there is no scam and that disgruntled competition is only out to malign NHAI and that there is complete transparency in its functioning.
But the CBI has charged the two NHAI officers for unduly favouring some companies and passing on privileged information to help them bag contracts for highway construction.
CBI says the modus operandi of the two officers was to eliminate all potential contenders on one pretext or the other and favour the accused company ensuring huge financial gains to it.
The scandal came to light after anomalies were detected in the tender process of NH 69, connecting Nagpur to Betul.
All the accused in the case have been sent to CBI's custody till May 31. CBI has already recovered close Rs to 2.5 crore in cash from the premises of the two NHAI officers and could register a case of disproportionate assets too in the days to come.