Six tainted road contractors now under sales tax scanner
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.