Vadodara Municipal Corporation Orders Immediate Disciplinary Action in Harni Boatkand Case

On January 18th, 12 children and 14 people in total were lost in a tragedy in the Harani-Laxo Zone. An inquiry is underway in the High Court regarding this incident. During this inquiry, the High Court has ordered the Urban Housing Secretary to take disciplinary action against Vadodara’s immediate Municipal Commissioner Dilip Rana. This investigation will be conducted under IAS rules. Additionally, the court has raised the question of what measures will be taken if a contractor is found unsuitable, especially when the contract is not awarded the first time and only approved after two months.

The High Court has criticized the affidavit filed by the immediate Municipal Commissioner, terming it non-cooperative. The petitioner’s lawyer pointed out the excellence of this matter, as it was originally brought to light through a suo-motu PIL. In this context, the High Court directed the withdrawal of the affidavit submitted by the Vadodara Municipal Commissioner. The court is displeased with the affidavit as it appears to evade the issue. It revealed that the contract was rejected once before and then approved two months later.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that the Court noted in its order that the financial stability was zero when the contract was first rejected, but questioned why it was then approved just two months later, given that the financial stability had apparently increased. Moreover, the Court made it clear that the current Municipal Commissioner is accountable for this entire matter, and has issued investigative orders. Additionally, the Court has issued disciplinary orders against him.

The Mayor and Chairman of the Selection Committee were asked to take action against the Municipal Commissioner. In this incident, while the contractors of Kotiya Project are responsible, equal responsibility lies with officials of the Corporation’s jurisdiction, including the officials who passed the tender for the Kotiya Project, the chairpersons of the standing committee, the Mayor, and members of the selection committee, whether directly or indirectly. Requests for action were made by the families of the deceased children and the citizens.

The tender was approved as per the rules: Dr. Jigishaben Sheth

Regarding the approval of the tender for the Kotiya Project, Dr. Jigishaben Sheth, Chairman of the Standing Committee, stated that the tender was rejected the first time it came for approval. Later, after the company completed the documentation process, it was approved. Therefore, the tender will be approved according to the tender rules. It has been 5-6 years since this matter. Presently, there is no further recollection about the tender, but it will be approved as per the tender rules.

Approval for the project was granted in the Selection Committee chaired by the BJP Minister

Projects approved in the standing committee are approved or rejected by the selection committee. The tender for the construction of the Talav at Vaghodia Road, which resulted in the loss of 12 innocent children and 2 teachers, was also approved by the Selection Committee. At that time, the selection committee was chaired by the BJP Minister Rakesh Patel. Approval for the Kotiya Project was also granted.

Whether the company is qualified or not is the responsibility of the Municipal Commissioner: Rakesh Patel

Regarding this, the former BJP Minister Rakesh Patel stated that the Selection Committee does not receive complete information about the tender. Whether the company is qualified or not is the responsibility of the Corporation’s Administrative Department, which is under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner at the time. We don’t know how much each company has bid, and no company has been treated unfairly.

After the project was approved, collaboration began

The beautification and development of the Harini-Motnath Talav by the Vadodara Corporation were undertaken through a 30-year PPP contract. At that time, the company revealed its business plans for the multi-crore project. The owners of the company are father-son duo Binit Kotiya and Hitesh Kotiya. Later, architect Gopaldas Shah, Paresh Shah, and recently fled Nilesh Jain were also involved directly or indirectly in this project.

Political Influence Used to Approve Tender

It is noteworthy that the tender for the Kotiya project’s stakeholders was approved by the Vadodara Corporation. The fact that this tender was approved improperly is evident. Architect Gopaldas Shah participated as a technical consultant to approve the tender, while Paresh Shah used his political influence to get the tender approved. Although Paresh Shah was not directly involved in this project, he helped in getting his family members, including his son, appointed as directors of the company later on.

Business Ventures Established

Based on available information, Gopaldas Shah had been involved in his share of the Kotiya project for 30 years. Similarly, Paresh Shah had also invested in the project. Meanwhile, both families continued their original businesses. Along with that, a shop for snacks named “Manorath Farasani House” was opened within the Dolphin Entertainment Complex. They sold items like jalebi, samosa, puff, tea-coffee, and vada pav there.

Project Handover Completed

It is noteworthy that Nilesh Jain is currently absconding after the tragic incident at the Vadodara Harini-Motnath pond. Nilesh Jain’s involvement in this project had been noticed. He is still absconding from this tragic incident. Those accused in this tragic incident are now turning the tables on Nilesh Jain. It is said that Nilesh Jain established Dolphin Entertainment Company (Sarname-1, Suraj Park Society, Ganga-Jamuna Society, Subhanpura, Vadodara) in February 2023 and took over the entire Kotiya project.

Settlement Through Bank Payment

After acquiring the Kotiya project under Dolphin Entertainment, Nilesh Jain paid a 25% royalty to Binit Kotiya and Harish Kotiya, stakeholders in the Kotiya project, through the corporation. Similarly, he also paid rent for the boat contract to Kalpesh Bhatt. All payments were made through the bank accounts of Dolphin Entertainment’s financiers, including alleged conspirators Paresh Shah and architect Gopaldas Shah, associated with the Kotiya project.

Hotel Operated in Front of New Court

In contact with the families of the Kotiya project, it has been revealed that the tender has been passed for the Kotiya project’s name and the contract is in effect. However, the reality is that, for the last 5 years, there has been no operation in the Laxmi Vilas Palace area. In the meantime, a shop named “Manorath Farasani House” has been operating, selling snacks like jalebi, samosa, puff, tea-coffee, and vada pav.

Entire Case Overview

A horrific incident occurred on January 18, 2024, near the New Sunrise School on Vaghodia Road in Vadodara, where 12 children and 2 teachers drowned in the canal between the school and the neighboring house. This tragedy shook Vadodara along with the entire Gujarat. Following this incident, the Crime Branch apprehended 18 successive accused and detained them. On the other hand, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation also initiated a financial audit against responsible officials related to the pond incident, issuing show-cause notices to 6 accountable officers. They were given 7 days to disclose details.

Names of all 20 arrested accused:

Nayan Gohil,Bhimsingh Yadav,Shantilal Solanki,Ankit Vasava,Veda Prakash Yadav,Rashmikant Prajapati,Binit Kotia,Gopaldas Shah,Paresh Shah,Jatin Doshi,Tejal Doshi,Neha Doshi,Nilesh Jain,Alpesh Bhatt,Deepen Shah,Dharmil Shah,Vatsal Shah,Vaishakhi Shah,Nutan Shah,Dharmin Bhatani

Niyati Rao

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