CBI books dancer and Padma Shri awardee Leela Samson, three others for 'unfruitful expenditure' on Chennai auditorium

  • The Chief Vigilance Officer of the Culture Ministry has alleged that the officials of the Kalakshetra Foundation awarded the contract for the renovation work of a Chennai auditorium to consultant architect CARD in violation of General Finance Rules.

  • After conducting an inquiry in 2016, the Culture Ministry alleged that the 84-year-old Foundation had spent Rs 62.20 lakh more than the estimated amount on the Rs 7.02-crore project.

  • Samson was allegedly responsible for the losses incurred by the Kalakshetra Foundation on account of not opting for open tendering.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked ace Bharatnatyam dancer and former Chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Leela Samson for alleged “unfruitful expenditure” in a Rs 7.02-crore renovation project of the Koothambalam auditorium of Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai, officials said on 14 December.

Samson, a Padma Shri awardee and also a former chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, has been booked along with the then officers of the Foundation: Chief Accounts Officer TS Murthi, Accounts Officer S Ramachandran, Engineering Officer V Srinivasan and proprietor of CARD and Chennai Engineers, the officials said.

The CBI also conducted searches on the residential premises of the accused.

In a complaint to the CBI, the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Culture Ministry has alleged that the officials of the Foundation awarded the contract for the renovation work to consultant architect CARD in violation of General Finance Rules (GFR), they said.

 CBI books dancer and Padma Shri awardee Leela Samson, three others for unfruitful expenditure on Chennai auditorium

File image of Leela Samson. Wikimedia Commons

After conducting an inquiry in 2016, the Culture Ministry alleged that the 84-year-old Foundation had spent Rs 62.20 lakh more than the estimated amount on the Rs 7.02-crore project.

The estimation given by the Central Public Works Department revealed that the contracts were awarded at a higher rate and the payments made to the contractors accordingly, according to an FIR registered in connection with the case.

Samson was the Director of the Foundation between 06 May 2005 and 30 April 2012. It was felt in 2006 that the auditorium built by the Foundation in 1985 needed renovation, they said.

The project aimed to upgrade the sound system of the Koothambalam auditorium, built in 1985, followed by civil engineering works, electrical works, air conditioning and architectural features, the CBI FIR said.

The 33rd Governing Body meeting held in 2009 decided to form a civil works advisory committee and PT Krishnan, Leela Samson and Madhavi Mudgal were to prepare a necessary estimation based on the recommendations of the Governing Board, it said.

The civil works committee appointed CARD as consultant architect in 2010 which gave contracts for 28 renovation works to five contractors while the committee also selected some contractors, it said.

The ministry alleged in the complaint that the open tender process was not followed in awarding the contracts.

It also alleged that Samson failed to apprise the non-official members of the Works Committee about the GFR norms and inform the Works Committee about the CAG Inspection Report received in August 2011.

“Instead, approval of the Works Committee was obtained for two major expenditures in September and December 2011. She failed to place the CAG Inspection Report in the meeting of the Finance Committee and the General Body held on 23 January 2012 and 24 January 2012 respectively and kept these bodies under the dark,” the agency has alleged.

The FIR, citing reports, alleged that even if there were only limited sources of supply of sophisticated equipment for sound, stage lighting, these were not justified in the file notings for resorting to limited tender, and hence there was no justification in not resorting to open bidding.

Samson was allegedly responsible for the losses incurred by the Foundation on account of not opting for open tendering as also mandated by the General Body, it said.

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Updated Date: Dec 14, 2019 18:43:52 IST