The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed a case against former Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Coking Coal Limited T K Lahiry and other former senior officers of the company in the purchase scam of 100 tippers in 2013 at an "exorbitant cost" which resulted in wrongful gain of Rs 97 crore to Larsen and Toubro.
In its FIR, the CBI has also booked the then directors Ashok Sarkar, Dinesh Chandra Jha, General Managers A N Sahay, S K Panigrahi, Barain Sinha, G Upreti, A K Gangopadhyay, and Larsen and Toubro Pvt Ltd.
It is alleged that the accused persons in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy between 2012 and 2013 had approved the purchase of 100 tippers, a kind of heavy duty truck, for an estimated cost of Rs 383 crore for replacing existing dumpers.
The CBI has alleged that the approval for the purchase proposal was given without any support of documents and expert opinion of Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI).
It is also alleged in the FIR that no justification was given for the material change in the requirement from dumper to tipper for altering "time tested" practice of use of dumpers for mining operation in contravention of laid down guidelines of Coal India.
The FIR has claimed that open cast mines of the public sector undertaking Bharat Coking Coal Limited are small patches having restrictions in length and width.
Dumpers are specially meant for off-road applications whereas tippers are primarily meant for highway operations, the FIR said.
"Dumpers were being used by the BCCL and subsidiaries of CIL for different coal mines and this was found to be time tested equipment over a period of time," it said.
It said only dumpers are suitable for plying in BCCL mines due to different mines conditions like deeper seams, constraint in haul road width, among others.
The Material Management Department of BCCL had prepared Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for the procurement of 100 dumpers in 2012.
"Initially, BCCL management had approved the indents for purchase of 100 dumpers with maintenance but later on tippers were also added without getting any endorsement or vetting by the CMPDI as laid down in CIL purchase manual and without getting approval by the Board of Directors of BCCL," it said.
It is alleged that the then General Manager, Excavation provided technical specifications, draft technical evaluation criteria and merit with proposed NIT which were tailor-made to suit tipper manufacturers.
The CBI alleged that because of tailor-made specifications, two companies which submitted bid for dumpers (including BEML which had been supplying dumpers to BCCL) got eliminated with V E Commercial Vehicles Bangalore remaining in the race.
After the anomaly was brought to notice by BEML, the tender was cancelled and fresh indents were generated. The officials who had recommended dumpers as replacement changed their recommendation in favour of tippers without any justification.
When fresh bids were invited in 2013, Larsen and Toubro, Tata Motors and V E Commercial Vehicles participated. The tender committee awarded the contract to Larsen and Toubro at a cost of Rs 309.57 crore.
"The said tender committee not only recommended for purchase of 35-ton type tippers at exorbitant rate but also recommended exorbitant maintenance cost of Rs 97.04 crore," it alleged.
It is further alleged that most of the tippers remained unutilised in BCCL due to which a wrongful loss of Rs 97.04 crore was caused to BCCL with corresponding wrongful gain to Larsen and Toubro.
The FIR said the criminal conspiracy by the officers cost the wrongful pecuniary loss of Rs 97.04 crore to the exchequer with corresponding gain to themselves.
A request for comment from Larsen and Toubro did not elicit any response.