Mumbai: From water contracts to monorail, the past is catching up with Louis Berger Group Inc. (LBG).
The Indian unit of the New Jersey-based project management company, which is under scrutiny for allegedly paying bribes to secure water and sewerage projects in Assam and Goa, must now contend with a lawsuit over the Mumbai monorail as well.
On 24 July, a magistrate court in Mumbai will hear a petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Vivekanand Gupta, which said Louie Berger India Pvt. Ltd was hired as a project management consultant (PMC) for Mumbai’s prestigious monorail project without calling a tender.
Gupta’s private criminal complaint names officials of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) and LBG. It was filed after an April report by the Comptroller and Auditor General which said LBG had approved cost estimates without visiting the project site. The report also said LBG prepared cost estimates within two weeks based on bids by engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors.
MMRDA, the state government’s infrastructure agency, is building the country’s first 19-km-long monorail which will link Chembur in the eastern suburbs and Jacob circle in South Mumbai. Currently, the first phase of 6km between Chembur and Wadala is in operation. The entire project is expected to be operational by end of 2016.
LBG is under investigation by the US justice department for obtaining contracts through bribery in India, Indonesia and the Philippines. On Sunday, defence minister Manohar Parrikar demanded an inquiry the Central Bureau of Investigation over hiring LBG as a consultant for the project in Goa, where he was chief minister until 2014.
LBG is also a consultant to City and Industrial Development Corp., another Maharashtra government infrastructure development agency for its ₹ 12,000 crore Navi Mumbai Airport Project.