In the toilet scam of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, which caused a loss of Rs 13.66 crore to the exchequer, the CBI on Tuesday lodged an FIR against three engineers and an official of Selvel Media Services.
They were booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy and under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The accused are Superintending Engineer R C Diwan, former Superintending Engineer S R Aggarwal, former Chief Engineer S K Bansal, Bishwadeep Dutta, general manager of Selvel Media Services, and some “unknown persons’’, said Tarun Gaba, SP in the anti-corruption branch of CBI.
The scam in operation and maintenance of 86 public toilets took place between 2006 and 2014. According to the CBI, the “nature of tender was changed from a revenue-generating contract to an expenditure-incurring contract”.
The case has been registered after a preliminary enquiry, which was initiated on March 31. Searches were conducted in the offices of Selvel Media and the municipal corporation.
As per the CBI, two work orders were allotted on September 10, 2007, to Selvel Media for the work of operation, running and maintenance of already renovated 40 and 46 public toilets and 15 connecting passages in various markets of Chandigarh.
A new condition was inserted in the tender notice, which was published in a few local dailies on July 13, 2007, saying the executive engineer of public health division (then R C Diwan) was empowered to issue the tender forms after judging the capability of the agency applying for the tenders. “This condition was contrary to the detailed notice inviting tender and had a direct effect on dissuading the prospective bidders from participating in the tender and thus scuttled the competition,” says the FIR.
Although conditional tenders were not to be accepted, conditions were placed by the companies that while they would collect the advertising income, they would not pay advertisement tax and licence fee, and also collect maintenance charges of toilets from the municipal corporation.
As per the CBI, in similar other contracts, the MC has not paid a single penny, but the contractors paid advertisement tax and licence fee because they collected the income from advertising.
Also, in all earlier contracts, the contractors/agencies carried out the construction of toilets and also looked after their operation and maintenance. “This was the only case when already renovated toilets were handed over on contract and company was not to incur any expenses,” notes the FIR.
Selvel Media got the work orders to maintain toilets at a cost of around Rs 8,000 per toilet with an enhancement of 10 per cent every year for five years. After five year, the maintenance cost became Rs 12,000 per month.
The tenders were floated again, three companies applied for the work, of which only two qualified and again Selvel Media got the contract at a cost of Rs 17,303 per toilet with similar conditions.