The 800-MW Parbati-II power project, being executed by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), has come under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has registered a case under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the IPC and Sections 13(2) and 13(8) of the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with a multi-crore cement scam in connection with the project.

Marred by scams, the Parbati-II has been running almost 10 years behind schedule. It took the CBI almost seven months to register a case at the Shimla police station after the investigating agency detected the fake delivery of cement supplies at NHPC stores at Pabarti project sites in April this year.

It is learned that 34 fake incidents of cement truck carriage had been verified, which showed cement consignments of 320 cement bags each, over a period of time. The cement supplies were shown to be delivered at the Parbati project stores in Sainj, Ninu Nala and Soma Ropa, but were never delivered.

The CBI established a prime facie case worth Rs 25 lakh, that could go up several times, as the NHPC had been using thousands of cement bags in Parbati-II and the 520-MW Parbati-III and the NHPC contractor was the same.

Though the CBI is probing the exact dimension of the cement scam, what has come as surprise is that the same contractor, Gammon India, was awarded work of the Parbati-II powerhouse and surge shaft without material. Interestingly, work of Parbati-III has been awarded to Gammon India without material that has further raised the suspicion of the investigating agency.

The dam of Parbati-II is being constructed by Patel Engineering while work of the half-complete head race tunnel has been rescinded from Satyam Company and fresh bids have been invited.

The CBI has established that the scam could not have happened without a nexus of high NHPC officials and the contractor. The CBI raided NHPC stores in Chandigarh and at the project site in April after a complaint was lodged with the agency earlier this year.

The complainant had mentioned that the cement supplies meant for the construction of a dam, a powerhouse and the 30-km head race tunnel of Parbati-II was shown to be delivered in stores of the contractor rather than NHPC stores.

After the CBI detected the scam, the NHPC resorted to a face-saving exercise. It kept the store in charge under suspension and served notices on four officials, including a Deputy Manager, Shilagarh (Barshaini), an Assistant Manager (Civil), Gadsa, and an Electrical Engineer (Sainj).

These officials and their heads are under the CBI scanner. A senior CBI official said the case was registered at the Shimla police station two days ago and further investigations were in progress.