Saradha-IRCTC deal: Gowda shuns comment as probe is on

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New Delhi, Sept 8: Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda Monday declined to comment on the Saradha-IRCTC contract as CBI is already probing it.

"CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) is probing. Further comments from me will be interference," Gowda said, replying to the media persons here after presenting his ministry's initiatives in the 100 days of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) had entered into an agreement with a company of the chit fund-funded Saradha Group in 2010 regarding a tourism project when Mamata Banerjee headed the railway ministry.

It was reported last month that Saradha was favoured in getting a contract from the IRCTC for providing logistics support to the "Bharat Tirth" project announced in Banerjee's 2010-11 Railway Budget.

The scheme envisaged launching of 16 special "Bharat Tirth" trains, connecting popular tourist sites and pilgrimage centres across the country, to promote tourism.

The Saradha scam came to light in April 2013 after the group downed shutters without repaying lakhs of investors, who had parked their money in the group companies, lured by the promise of astronomically high returns.

The CBI is probing the matter as per a Supreme Court directive.

Meanwhile, in a statement Thursday, the IRCTC said the company was empanelled as a sales agent but claimed no "special favour or privilege" was shown to it. It described as "factually incorrect" media reports that Saradha Tours and Travels was a service provider to it.

IANS

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