The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a corruption and criminal conspiracy case against former director of Kalakshetra Foundation and Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson, along with four others, for alleged irregularities in renovation of Koothambalam Auditorium in Chennai, IANS reported on Saturday.
The case was registered on Thursday based on a complaint filed by the chief vigilance officer of the Ministry of Culture on May 31, 2017. The officer alleged that there was an “unfruitful expenditure” of Rs 7.02 crore on the renovation of the auditorium.
The work order for renovation was awarded by the foundation officials at a higher rate through the architect consultant Centre for Architectural Research and Design without following the General Financial Rules, 2005, the complaint alleged.
Former Chief Accounts Officers at the Kalakshetra Foundation TS Murthi, Accounts Officer S Ramachandran, Engineer V Srinivasan, and Proprietor of CARD and Chennai Engineers Ravi Neelakantan were also booked by the probe agency.
The Kalakshetra Foundation was declared as an institution of national importance and was brought under Ministry of Culture as an autonomous organisation. The foundation receives aid every year from the ministry for its developmental activities.
In 2006, it was decided to upgrade the auditorium and renovation was discussed in several financial committees as well as governing body board meetings. Samson, a Padma Shri as well as Sangeet Natak Akademi Award recipient, authorised the governing body to spend the amount on advice of the civil works advisory committee.
The Comptroller and Auditor General audited the expenditure of the foundation and revealed several lapses in executing the renovation works. It pointed out that the renovation was undertaken without formal sanction of the governing board and financial committee of the foundation.
A controversy erupted after this and Samson resigned for the post of director in 2012.
The Central Public Works Department team in Chennai inspected the work and assessed that foundation spent approximately Rs 62.20 lakh more than the estimated amount.