Updated: August 19, 2021 3:52:01 pm
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recommended a CBI enquiry into a Delhi Transport Corporation deal related to the purchase and Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) of 1,000 low-floor air-conditioned buses in which a committee formed by Lt Governor Anil Baijal had flagged various lapses.
MHA Additional Secretary (Union Territory) Govind Mohan communicated the decision of the Centre to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on August 16. On July 21, The Indian Express had reported that files related to the deal was forwarded by the L-G secretariat to the MHA as the committee had recommended that the AMC be scrapped.
“I am writing this in connection with purchase of 1000 low-floor buses by Delhi government and the report submitted by the three-member committee constituted by the Government of NCT Delhi for a detailed enquiry into the matter. The matter has been examined in this Ministry and with the approval of competent authority, the DoPT has been requested to take necessary action for undertaking Preliminary Enquiry in the matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation,” Govind Mohan wrote to the Chief Secretary.
While the purchase contract was for Rs 850 crore, the 12-year AMC was for Rs 3,412 crore. The purchase tender was awarded to JBM Auto and Tata Motors on a 70:30 ratio while JBM Auto had also emerged as the L1 bidder in the AMC tendering.
At the heart of the dispute are two separate tenders floated by the DTC last year for the purchase of 1,000 low-floor AC buses and their AMC. The DTC had reasoned that a composite tender for both the purposes may not have attracted bidders, hence it decided to split the process.
However, the matter came under a cloud after the three-member committee pointed out that the eligibility criteria as laid out in the AMC tender “defeated the purpose of splitting the bids”. Principal secretary (transport) Ashish Kundra, principal secretary (vigilance) K R Meena and former IAS OP Agarwal were the members of the committee that was formed on June 16.
In its 11-page report, the committee had observed that the AMC encourages “cartelisation” and “monopoly pricing”. It also contained a sequencing of the purchase and AMC tendering, saying it created a situation where both the bidders were aware that they were the only players in the game.
The committee, in its report, underlined that it “focused its attention only on the procurement process of AMC of the buses”. Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta had also demanded a CBI investigation in the matter.
The Delhi government however denied all the allegations. “There is absolutely no truth to these allegations. A committee was already set up to investigate the matter thoroughly, which gave a clean chit,” it said in a statement. The government did not comment on the specific observations made by the committee on the AMC tender.
“It is a politically motivated conspiracy against the Aam Aadmi Party. BJP wants to prevent the people of Delhi from getting new buses. In the past as well the Centre Government has tried to harass the Delhi Government using the CBI, but not even once has their attempt been successful because there has never been any truth to any of their allegations. The Delhi Government does not believe in the politics of slander, it only believes in good governance and is committed to delivering upon its promise of good governance,” the government added.
While the Delhi government has not yet scrapped the deal, both the purchase and the AMC contracts were put on hold on June 12. During a July 10 webcast, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had accused the BJP of “trying to malign the image of the AAP government by levelling false allegations”. Sisodia had based his statement on the committee’s observation the tendering process of purchase of buses “warrants no interference and suffers from no major infirmity.”
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