IT Conducts Searches in Connection with Covid Scam in Mumbai

Mumbai: The Income Tax department is conducting searches at 25-26 locations in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi and Prayagraj in connection with alleged tax evasion on purchase of oxygen plants and setting up jumbo Covid centres in Mumbai. BMC contractor Romil Chheda had supplied oxygen cylinders to Covid hospitals and centres under a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation contract during the pandemic and billed them at five times the price.

Raids were conducted at locations Mumbai, Gujarat, Prayagraj, Delhi and Pune in connection with the companies that had contracts from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) during the Covid period.

It has been alleged that BMC had paid Rs 140 crore to the contractor for oxygen procurement and supply during the pandemic but less than half of the money used for the actual work. The remaining money was siphoned off.

BMC had asked Chheda to supply oxygen in hospital and field Covid centres during the pandemic, as the city was facing acute shortage of the oxygen. Chheda allegedly sub-contracted the work to another company of his, which eventually had purchased the oxygen and required equipment from a Delhi-based supplier.

It was found that the Delhi-based supplier raised the bill in the name of the paper company, which subsequently raised inflated bill in the name of the company through which Chheda bagged the contractor from the BMC. The contractor procured cylinders for Rs 20 crore and billed them for Rs 80 crore evading taxes.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged that contractor Chheda was provided undue benefits because of his connections with the Uddhav Thackeray family.

"Romil Chheda is a friend of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. He was a blacklisted contractor in the BMC. Still he got 17 different contracts, including zoo renovation, enclosure for dolphins, jumbo Covid centres and oxygen plants. Mumbai police are already investigating his company and now the Income Tax department has also started their investigation. They (the Thackerays) will have to answer people also," Somaiya said.

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