Amid an ongoing tussle with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena on Saturday directed Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to file an FIR against officials of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which is headed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, for “embezzlement” of Rs 20 crore, officials said.
Saxena has also asked the chief secretary to identify the DJB officials or officers who had been allegedly siphoning off funds, fix responsibility and submit an action taken report within 15 days, a note from the L-G House said.
In a press conference Saturday, Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman and AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “We welcome all sorts of investigations like this. Manish ji had also recommended this sort of investigation.”
According to officials, the DJB allegedly collected an amount to the tune of Rs 20 crore as water bills from consumers and sent this amount to a private bank account instead of DJB’s bank account for several years.
“The DJB appointed its banker Corporation Bank to collect water bills on its behalf through an order in June 2012 for three years and the same was renewed further in 2016, 2017 and even in 2019, after the fraud was detected. The bank, in turn, in total violation of the terms of contract, and with the knowledge of DJB officials, engaged a private agency M/s Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. for collection of cash and cheques and for deposition (depositing) the same in DJB’s bank account,” the note from the L-G House said.
The L-G House officials also alleged that the discrepancy and irregularities were noticed while extending the contract of the bank beyond October 10, 2019, when Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was the DJB chairman. “Despite knowing all this, the board headed by Kejriwal further extended the contract of Corporation Bank, and in turn, that of M/s Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., that was working as the bank’s collection agent, till 2020,” the note said.
L-G House officials said that instead of taking any action, DJB extended the contract and increased the service fee from Rs 5 to 6 per bill. “The water bills collected from people (were) deposited in Federal Bank and transferred to the private account of one M/s Aurrum E-Payments Pvt. Ltd., rather than the DJB’s bank account,” an official said, adding that depositing DJB’s cash in a private bank account of a third party was “in clear violation of the contract agreement between DJB and Corporation Bank”.