Six tainted road con­trac­tors now un­der sales tax scan­ner

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Lax­man Singh lax­man.singh@hin­dus­tan­times.com

A trip to Rajodi beach in Va­sai on Thurs­day turned tragic for seven teenagers, with four of them feared dead af­ter be­ing pulled into the sea dur­ing high tide.

Sunny Palav ,15, Sachin Vish­wakarma ,16, Ro­han Jad­hav, 17, and Chetan Kalap, 19, all Nala­sopara res­i­dents, were play­ing in the sea when the tide got strong around 2pm.

Wit­nesses said one of the boys started drown­ing, and to save him, the other three went deep into the wa­ter.

“They were play­ing in the sea when the tide got strong. They ven­tured into un­safe area and were pulled away from the shore,” said K Kolhe, the as­sis­tant in­spec­tor at Ar­nala po­lice sta­tion.

Kolhe said search op­er­a­tions were un­der­way.

Three of their friends — Sachin Malekar, Na­man Mishra and Ankit Sharma — who were closer to the shore shouted out for help and were pulled to safety by the lo­cals.

The po­lice said the beach has a life­guard and that the lo­cals had warned the boys against go­ing into the wa­ter dur­ing high tide.

Two teams from the fire brigade and a few lo­cal res­i­dents were look­ing for the boys at the time of go­ing to press.

The six con­trac­tors named in the multi-crore road re­pair scam may have also been evad­ing taxes.

The Depart­ment of Sales Tax has now ini­ti­ated an in­quiry to find out how much tax was evaded.

Sales tax com­mis­sioner Ra­jiv Jalota de­clined to com­ment on the is­sue, but an­other of­fi­cial said the con­trac­tors got away pay­ing less tax by ma­nip­u­lat­ing the quan­tity of con­struc­tion ma­te­rial they bought.

The depart­ment is is­su­ing no­tices to the con­trac­tors ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion on how much raw ma­te­rial they used for re­con­struc­tion. This in­for­ma­tion, depart­ment sources said, would be tal­lied with the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion’s (BMC) records. The rules re­quire the BMC to pay 2% as sales tax, while the con­trac­tor pays 3% per con­tract on the ma­te­ri­als they buy to re­pair roads — such as ce­ment, con­crete, bricks, as­phalt, sand, metal and drain cov­ers .

The six con­trac­tors are back in fo­cus, as in the past three years, they bagged most of the road re­pair con­tracts. In July this year, HT re­ported about how road works worth Rs4,259 crore was done by just these six con­trac­tors.

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