Soon after the Delhi government’s vigilance directorate (DoV) recommended a probe by a “specialized agency” into alleged irregularities in the construction of classrooms for Delhi government schools, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia again took a swipe at the BJP, alleging a political witch hunt .
“FIRs, charge sheets, vigilance reports are all written in BJP’s office and distributed to the media. They are not given to ministers,” he said.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had in a February 17, 2020, report alleged “glaring irregularities” by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in the construction of 2,405 classrooms in 193 government schools in the national capital.
It involved a “scam of Rs 1,300 crore”, official sources said on Friday.
The CVC had sent the report to the Delhi government’s vigilance directorate, seeking its comments on the matter, in February 2020 itself, but reportedly no action was taken in over two years.
“The directorate however kept sitting over the report for two-and-half years until Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena asked the chief secretary to inquire into the delay in August this year and submit a report,” a source told news agency PTI.
The vigilance directorate has also recommended “fixing responsibilities” of the officials concerned of the Education Department and PWD who were involved in the “bungling” to the tune of nearly Rs 1,300 crore, they said.
“Apart from several procedural lapses and violation of rules and manuals to tamper with the tender process, the DoV, in its report, has specifically underlined the role of private persons viz. ‘M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates’, who, without being appointed as a consultant, not only attended a crucial meeting held on June 21, 2016, in the chamber of the then PWD Minister but also influenced the Minister for post-tender changes done in the work contracts in the name of “richer specifications” that resulted into additional financial implications of Rs 205.45 crore,” the report said, according to news agency ANI.
“Extra constitutional agencies/persons (like M/s Babbar & Babbar Associates) were running the administration and dictating the terms and conditions to the officers and the entire administration both at policy level as well as the execution level were implementing such directions of a private person in a place like National Capital of the Country, which is not only against TBR, 1993 and other rules, regulations and guidelines, besides being a serious threat to securities aspect. This kind of approach will lead to administrative anarchy and chaos,” the report further reads.
In April, 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal directed the construction of additional classrooms in Delhi government schools. The PWD was committed to the task of constructing 2405 classrooms in 193 schools. It carried out a survey to find out the requirement of the classrooms and based on the survey, projected a total requirement of 7180 equivalent classrooms (ECR) in 194 schools, almost three times the requirement of 2405 classrooms.
CVC received a complaint on August 25, 2019, regarding irregularities and cost overrun in the construction of classrooms. The construction cost escalated by upto 90 per cent in the name of “richer specifications” without issuing a tender. The Delhi Government sanctioned cost escalation of Rs 500 crore without tender.
According to the findings of the CVC investigation report, tenders were floated for the works originally proposed and approved, but later on, awarded contract value varied from 17 per cent to 90 per cent on account of “richer specifications”.
The cost escalated to the extent of Rs.326.25 crore, which is 53% higher than the awarded amount of tender.
“In 194 schools, 1214 toilets were constructed against the requirement of 160 toilets with extra expenditure of Rs 37 crore. Toilets were counted and projected as classrooms by Delhi government. Only 4027 classrooms were constructed in 141 schools,” the report says, according to ANI.
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