Chairman of Tata Group Ratan Tata on Wednesday said that no bribe of Rs 20 crore was paid to former telecom minister A Raja. Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa told a Delhi court yesterday that he was being ‘selectively targeted’ in the 2G scam and accused the country’s federal investigating agency of failing to probe the role of Tata Teleservices and Datacom, part of the Videocon Group.
Majid Memon, lawyer for Balwa’s defence, alleged that the Tatas had donated Rs 20 crore to a hospital in Tamil Nadu in a ‘very special case’, which was not being investigated by the CBI.
He also produced a letter written by Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata (dated September 15, 2009) that talks about Rs 20-crore donation from a Tata trust to a hospital in Raja’s constituency.
Memon pointed out the letter quotes Tata as saying: “We have never made a grant of this size in the trust’s history, it is a special case made after considerable deliberation.”
Balwa’s counsel has asked the special judge to direct the CBI to probe this issue further.
Refuting the charges, a Tata Group spokesperson said the trusts have only given 3.26 crore against actual equipment procured and installed. “It is a fact that RN Tata was approached in 2008-2009 about a grant of Rs 20 crore from Tata trusts for the Perambalur Medical College Hospital. However, the material fact is that grant was ultimately not given since the Tamil Nadu government was required to spend Rs 82 cr initially, which it had not implemented,” the spokesperson said.
In 2008, a request was received through Sivasankar (Perambalur MLA) to partner the Tamil Nadu government in constructing a medical college and hospital in Perambalur which is a backward district with a predominantly scheduled caste and other backward class population.
The letter also mentioned that several other industrial houses were also being requested to partner the state government in its efforts. The request made to the Tatas was also in line with the announcement made by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the state budget for 2008-2009 in this regard.
The trust had therefore only committed support to the government of Tamil Nadu on that basis, provided actual work to be executed by the government was in progress. Since this was not happening, not even a rupee was given to the project.
The Tata Group spokesperson went on to add that the only help extended by the trusts to the state of medical facilities in Perambalur was in response to a grant request in July 2007. A grant of Rs 8 crores was sanctioned against this request. Of this sanctioned amount, only a sum of Rs 3.26 crores was released by the trust and spent by the hospital, towards the cost of a CT scan machine and allied medical equipment to augment its facilities to treat the rural poor.
Additionally, the CT scan and allied equipment are in actual use for the poor patients. As is the practice, the trust had the progress of the project reviewed by an external expert. The expert reported slow progress on account of lack of infrastructure and trained technical personnel, and hence no further amount was released. Economic Times