NEW DELHI: The IT cell of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Wednesday seized nearly half a dozen computers of staff working in the organization, triggering panic and shock among the employees.
The operation was carried out based on the input that sensitive documents and information linked to projects and policies were being passed on to highway builders and other contractors even before a decision was taken.
This was the first such exercise carried out by the NHAI in its history and came as a shock to the staff. “This was done to deter people from getting involved in any malpractice. There had been some complaints that private payers were getting information and files which are under process,” NHAI member (administration) R K Chaturvedi said. He added that the computers were being scanned as per NHAI’s IT policy, and such exercises can be carried out once in three or four months.
TOI has learned that the computers were being checked late evening and some more systems could be picked up. On Wednesday, most of the computers seized were attached to the private secretaries of chief general managers.
Officials and some of the highway contractors TOI talked admitted that obtaining information or document about projects and proposals is easy in the NHAI since contractors have high access to personal staff and deputies of senior officials.
“There is nothing wrong if the house is put in order. Since it’s an implementing agency, you need to engage with private players, call them for presentations and put their point of view. But there is also a need to have checks and balances to clean the system if anyone is misusing it,” said another official. National Highways Authority of India, the country’s premier highway building agency, executes hundreds of projects involving at least Rs 1 lakh crore work every year. NHAI also has a huge number of arbitration cases pending at different levels.
Meanwhile, other sources in the NHAI also said there had been instances of “seasons of complaints” against senior officials, particularly when promotions are due. Many of the officials feel people at the NHAI headquarters itself generate such anonymous complaints.
Sources said some anonymous complaints recently against top officials, which could have also triggered the exercise to identify “habitual complainants.”