Monday, June 17, 2024

Firm that built collapsed Uttarkashi tunnel bought Rs 55 crore electoral bonds 6 months after tax raids

Navayuga Engineering Company Limited, the builder of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand where 41 workers were trapped for 17 days, purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 30 crore six months after an Income Tax Department raid, as per data shared by SBI and Project Electoral Bond, an investigative journalism project.

According to the Election Commission of India’s electoral bonds data, Navayuga Engineering Company Private Limited acquired electoral bonds totaling at least Rs 55 crore over three years.

Originally founded in Visakhapatnam and headquartered in Hyderabad, Navayuga bought 30 bonds valued at Rs 1 crore each on April 18, 2019, following the Income Tax raid related to alleged tax violations and money laundering.

Additionally, the company, which was also raided in 2012, had its premises inspected by Registrar of Companies officials in Hyderabad in July 2018, revealing around 47 firms registered at the same address.

On October 10, 2022, Navayuga purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 25 crore.

According to The Quint, at least 14 out of the top 30 companies which purchased electoral bonds from 12 April 2019 to 24 January 2024 including Martin’s company faced action by central or state probe agencies.

Furthermore, the company has secured government contracts nationwide, including for projects such as the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project in Telangana and the Polavaram project. However, in September 2019, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government canceled the Polavaram contract worth Rs 3,200 crore awarded to Navayuga.

Navayuga is also involved in constructing the Dhola-Sadia bridge over the Brahmaputra in Assam, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2017, touted as India’s longest river bridge.

Complying with the directions of the Supreme Court, The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday uploaded data received from the State Bank of India (SBI) on electoral bonds on its website.

ECI said the State Bank of India had provided the data about the electoral bonds to the commission on March 12. While scrapping the Electoral Bond Scheme the Supreme Court directed the SBI to give the ECI the data.

The ECI has uploaded the data into two parts – the first one containing 337 pages providing details of entities that bought the electoral bonds and the date of purchase, while the second part consists of 426 pages providing details of the political parties, dates, and the amount. However, the data does not provide details of which entity bought which parties’ bonds.

According to available data, out of the total electoral bonds worth Rs 12,008 crore sold between 2017-2018 and 2022-2023, the BJP received nearly 55%, approximately Rs 6,564 crore.

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