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C P Joshi shrugs off corruption claims in World Bank-funded highway projects

New Delhi, Tue, 03 Apr 2012 ANI

New Delhi/Ghaziabad, Apr 3 (ANI): Union Transport Minister C P Joshi on Tuesday refused to comment on a World Bank report highlighting prevalent corruption and fraud in national highway projects funded by the bank.

While speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Joshi said he was unaware of the facts, adding that decisions would only be taken once the accuracy of the report was established.

"I said I don't know, you have to appreciate it. Today I have read it in the paper and I came here just to attend the function. Let me go to my office and ascertain the facts but I can assure you that we will take appropriate actions as per the report if this truth comes out, as per the report," said Joshi.

According to a national daily, the World Bank has cited bribes paid by private contractors to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials in order to obtain funded contracts.

Close aide of anti-graft activist Anna Hazare, Manish Sisodia slammed the government over the issue, saying corruption was only taken seriously when international bodies such as the World Bank pointed them out.

"It is not only the matter of national highways, no work can be done without bribery in this country, be it the common man or any one else, a bribe has to be paid. However, the irony is that when a common man says he is fed up of corruption, the government and even the intellectuals do not pay heed and say that corruption cannot be controlled by changing laws. But when the World Bank says the same thing, we listen to it. When the World Bank says there is corruption, we take it seriously," said Sisodia.

Newspapers on Tuesday were awash with headlines detailing the report, which revealed serious incidents of graft in a review of road projects in India.

The World Bank's Institutional Integrity Unit has sought a thorough probe into the matter.

The probe is likely to further highlight concerns about corruption in its development projects and increase pressure on outgoing President Robert Zoellick to tackle shortcomings in the bank's oversight of projects.

Problems in World Bank-financed projects in India first arose in 2005 but surfaced up at the end of 2006 when former World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz halted lending to the health sector until India took steps to amend its procurement methods. (ANI)

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