Delhi L-G V K Saxena, sources said, has recommended a CBI probe in a case of alleged corruption in the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the DTC.
A complaint regarding irregularities in the tendering and bidding process was received by the L-G in July. This was forwarded to Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar for comments. After he submitted his report to the L-G in August, the complaint has now been forwarded to the CBI, officials said.
The complaint alleged that the appointment of Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot as the chairman of the committee for tendering and procurement of buses by DTC was done in a “pre-meditated manner”, officials said. It also alleged that appointment of DIMTS as bid management consultant for this tender was done with an aim to “facilitate wrongdoing”.
As per the allegations, the procurement bid for 1,000 low-floor BS-IV and BS-VI buses in 2019, followed by another one in March 2020 for the purchase and annual maintenance contract for low-floor BS-VI buses was in contravention of rules. The report submitted by the chief secretary to the L-G on August 19 had pointed out certain “irregularities”, including that DIMTS and DTC’s tender committee did not evaluate the financial bids correctly. It also said a bidder was selected despite not meeting all the conditions of the tender.
The CBI is already conducting a preliminary enquiry in awarding annual maintenance contracts of the buses to be procured. Sources said Saxena has approved the clubbing of this complaint with the one already being probed.
A committee formed to look into the allegations, headed by retired IAS officer OP Aggrawal, in its report submitted last August had said the AAP government had deviated from procedure in the tendering and procurement process, sources said. “Criminal misconduct by public servants in this tender exercise will be ascertained by the investigating agency, ie CBI. On the basis of this, the Chief Secretary recommended to refer the matter to the CBI, which was approved by the L-G,” said a source.
The CBI started a preliminary investigation in a case last year, which pertains to two separate tenders floated by DTC last year for purchase of 1,000 low-floor AC buses and their AMC. DTC had reasoned that a composite tender for both purposes may not have attracted bidders, hence, it decided to split the process. However, the matter came under a cloud of suspicion after a three-member panel pointed out that eligibility criteria as laid out in the AMC tender “defeated the purpose of splitting the bids”.
AAP hits out at Saxena, BJP wades in
AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said new matters were being raised everyday by the L-G to divert from allegations of corruption levelled against him. “CBI started a preliminary enquiry on this matter a year and a half ago. They sent that complaint to CBI again three weeks ago and now have sent it the third time. But not a single bus has been bought till date. Not a single rupee worth of payment has been made. We stopped the tender process for the enquiry. The procedure had been on hold for almost two years. Now L-G wakes up and says enquire. The L-G is not a private employee. He is in a government post. If a man with integrity is accused of something, he says conduct an enquiry. We also say the same thing, but Saxena is running away, he is threatening defamation and is saying he will not allow any enquiries. Allegations have been made, and you are running away and doing new drama every day to take focus away from them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP said CM Arvind Kejriwal and corruption had become “synonymous”. “First, it was the excise policy, now there are irregularities in the purchase of buses… Kejriwal and corruption have become synonymous,” said BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia.
“They used to say they will bring 1,000 low-floor buses, the buses never came but corruption definitely came… Transport Minister Gahlot was made chairman of the committee for tendering and procurement of buses by DTC “with the intention of giving benefits to friends”, he alleged.