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CBI books former Director NEERI, other scientists in corruption cases

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NEW DELHI: The CBI has booked Nagpur Rakesh Kumar, the former director of CSIR—NEERI, and four scientists of the institute in three FIRs of alleged corruption and favours extended to private companies in awarding various projects, including the giant air-purifiers WAYU, officials said Wednesday.

The CBI conducted searches on Wednesday at 17 locations in Maharashtra, Haryana, Bihar, and Delhi, resulting in the seizure of “incriminating” documents, property-related documents and jewellery, they said.

They said the agency’s action followed allegations of criminal conspiracy and corruption in a complaint received from the Chief Vigilance Officer of CSIR against National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) scientists – former Director Rakesh Kumar, Chief Scientists Atya Kapley and Sanjeev Kumar Goyal, Principal Scientist Ritesh Vijay, and Senior Scientist Sunil Gulia, posted at Zonal Centre Delhi.

One of the three FIRs in which the agency has booked Gulia and Goyal, along with SS Environment Consultants Private Limited (EECPL) and Alaknanda Technologies Private Limited (ATPL), pertains to alleged corruption in installing WAYU-II devices to tackle air pollution.

The giant air purifiers WAYU developed by NEERI are installed at dense traffic zones to trap pollutant suspended particulate matter.

“It has been alleged that both the public servants (Goyal and Gulia) in criminal conspiracy with accused private companies abused their official position for obtaining undue advantage from these private companies and committed gross irregularities in procurement, fabrication, supply, installation and commissioning of WAYU-II devices,” CBI Spokesperson said.

The device, a patented product of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), was exclusively licensed to accused private firm ESS Environment Consultants Private Limited (EECPL), and efforts were made to procure WAYU-II devices from the said firm on a single bid basis each time, the CBI has alleged.

“Further, the indent was allegedly raised on a single tender basis by inserting a restrictive clause for the exclusive licensee of NEERI’s own technology without ascertaining the validity of the license agreement executed with the accused firm,” it alleged.

Five WAYU-II devices were allegedly also procured from Navi-Mumbai-based Alaknanada Technologies, raising questions about how it could manufacture the device, which had been exclusively licensed to another accused firm, the agency alleged.

“Despite NEERI being the proprietor/patent holder, procuring back products of its own technology on a single tender basis was allegedly in violation of GFR rules,” CBI said in a statement.

In the second case, the CBI has booked former Director NEERI Kumar and Kapley and three private firms: Alaknanda Technologies Pvt Ltd, Enviro Policy Research India Pvt Ltd, and Emergy Enviro Pvt Ltd.

The CBI has alleged that the scientists had entered into a criminal conspiracy with companies, allowing cartelisation, collusive bidding, splitting of tenders and works, and not obtaining the financial concurrence of the competent authority in return for undue advantage.

The FIR alleged that the three accused private companies had participated in tenders issued by CSIR-NEERI in which Navi Mumbai-based Alaknanda Technologies Pvt Ltd was awarded work in most cases, they said.

“It has been further alleged that one of the Directors of the accused Navi Mumbai-based private firm is the wife of a contractual staff who has been a long-standing associate of said Director, CSIR-NEERI, Nagpur,” the Spokesperson said.

The officials said Kumar also figures in the second FIR as an accused along with Principal Scientist Ritesh Vijay and Prabhadevi-based Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council-India (WTERT- India).

The CBI has alleged that the scientists entered into a criminal conspiracy with the company and abused their official positions to obtain undue advantage during 2018-19.

“It has also been alleged that during the year 2018-19, a joint proposal of CSIR- NEERI and the accused private firm (WTERT-India) for submission to Thane Municipal Corporation for providing advisory service for closure of dumping site at Diva-Khardi at the cost of Rs.19.75 lakhs was approved by the said Director (Kumar) along with accused Principal Scientist (Vijay),” CBI Spokesperson said.

It is alleged that WTERT-India was selected “arbitrarily on nomination basis”, without consulting the Financial Advisor, CSIR.

“It has been further alleged that before assuming charge of Director of CSIR-NEERI, the accused (Kumar) was associated with the accused private firm during the year 2015-16 and was a Member of its Organizing Committee and a Trustee,” he said. (PTI)

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