CDM, the Boston-based consultancy firm that allegedly paid kickbacks to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials between 2011 and 2015 to bag contracts was blacklisted by the authority in 2015 itself.
According to an official, CDM Smith was blacklisted by NHAI
The company admitted to the justice department of the United States that its officials paid bribe of $1.18 million (approximately Rs 6.7 crore) to NHAI
officials between 2011 and 2015 to obtain works for highway construction supervision and design contracts and a water project contract in Goa.
The reports mentioned that the company's division for India operations and CDM India paid bribes to receive contracts from NHAI.
The bribes were normally 2-4% of the contract price and paid through fraudulent subcontractors, who provided no actual services and understood that payments were meant to solely benefit the officials.
Bribery cases in the past have been a drag on the sector that is awaiting revival of private sector interest.
Recently, an enquiry into the allotment of land for highway projects in Uttrakhand turned into a scam as it was alleged that the land use pattern was changed from “agricultural to non-agricultural, in the back date”, to benefit certain owners.
Compensation for non-agricultural land is higher. Also, some owners of non-agricultural land were allegedly compensated at lower, agricultural land rate.
The contract was the widening of the 300-km Haridwar-Bareilly National Highway 74 to four lanes. NHAI, which is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of India’s National Highways, and which released the compensation amounts, too has been implicated.
On March 25, a week after the BJP formed government in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, sought a CBI probe into the alleged scam.
However, on April 5, Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari wrote to the CM, objecting to an inquiry against NHAI
officers, which, he said, would have an “adverse impact on the morale of the officers and would impede the execution of the projects”.