SRINAGAR: An engineer with a murky background is slated to take over as Managing Director (MD) of Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Corporation (JKPCC), which recently saw its MD, Dilip Thusoo, removed on charges of corruption.
Sources in the JKPCC told Kashmir Reader that Viqar Shonthu, who was directly inducted as General Manager (GM) in 2015 after being absent from duty for nearly eight years, is being considered for the top position. Former chief minister, the late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, had ordered an inquiry into Shonthu’s appointment as GM after JKPCC engineers brought to his notice the sudden elevation. The result of the inquiry was never made public, the sources said.
Shonthu, as per top government sources, faced scrutiny for the first time when an inquiry was ordered against him for swindling an amount of Rs 3 crore-Rs 5 crore while he was working in JKPCC as engineer. It was alleged that he had made money illegally during the construction of a migrant colony at Sheikhpora, Budgam.
“As the inquiry was going on, Shuntoo managed to obtain a posting in JKTDC (Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation) on deputation basis. When the heat of the inquiry grew too much for him, he opted for leave, and never returned until 2015,” sources said.
“In June 2015, Shonthu managed to befool the government into allowing him to join the JKPCC on 22-06-2015 as DGM (Deputy General Manager). The next day he was promoted as General Manager,” sources privy to the happenings told Kashmir Reader. “The then MD of JKPCC, Dilip Thusoo, did not show Shonthu’s full period of absence. Instead of 2,360 days, he fraudulently showed only 1,621 days. It seemed to have been done in connivance with higher-ups in the government.”
Sources said that Shonthu’s first leave was approved between June 2007 and May 2009. He took the leave to go to Dubai to work for the Dubai Metro. In June 2009, he came back and joined JKPCC as DGM Hqrs.
“He remained present in Kashmir for a mere 17 days till August 2009, when he proceeded on another leave. Once the leave was sanctioned, he went back to Dubai and resumed working there, while being on leave in Kashmir,” sources said.
JKPCC Vice-Chairman Khalid Jahangir told Kashmir Reader that Viqar Shontu is in among the probable’s to be the next MD but the decision will be taken by R&B (Roads & Buildings) Minister Naeem Akhtar.
R&B Commissioner Secretary Sanjeev Verma told Kashmir Reader that the government will examine credentials of all candidates before appointing anyone to the top position.
“I am not aware about the background of this person (Shonthu), but all things will be looked into before giving the top position to any person,” he said when told about Shonthu’s controversial career.
Shonthu’s likely elevation is coming on the heels of the removal of the notorious former MD of JKPCC, Dilip Thusoo, who was seen in a video negotiating a deal for dropping his case in the vigilance commission. Thusoo, as per sources, was gulping between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh every day through fraudulent means. The government finally ordered an inquiry into him after an investigation by the vigilance commission.