Dinesh Mohaniya, chairperson of the Delhi Assembly’s Estimates Committee which is probing alleged irregularities amounting to Rs 776.7 crore in three Delhi Jal Board (DJB) projects, has recused himself from the committee — with AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj replacing him. On July 22, The Indian Express had reported that Mohaniya, as DJB vice-chairperson, was part of the board that approved the projects. “… Mohaniya was privy to the entire approval process for the three projects… He has been vice-chairperson since July, 2015,” a DJB official told The Indian Express.
A source in the Delhi Assembly confirmed that “Mohaniya recused himself as the chairperson, and the speaker of the Delhi Assembly, Ram Niwas Goel, appointed Bhardwaj in his place”. “In terms of pure legality, there was no question of conflict of interest. It is a matter pertaining to the Assembly. But Mohaniya recused himself. Probe is on,” the source said. The committee had its most recent meeting on Thursday, which was chaired by Bhardwaj. Sources in the Assembly said that during the meeting, “the DJB CEO was asked a number of questions regarding the matter”.
Mohaniya, Bhardwaj and DJB CEO Keshav Chandra refused to comment on the issue. The investigation is into alleged irregularities in three projects set up to clean the Najafgarh and supplementary drains under phase 1 of the ‘Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Plan 2017’, taken up after directions from the NGT in 2015. The charge, The Indian Express has learnt, revolves around questions about the projects being awarded — if it was done without land being available and without the board’s approval on who would fund them.
Sources maintained that documents being perused by the committee indicate that of the 19 projects, there are only 10 locations where land is “allotted and under possession (of) DJB”. In the rest, land is either partly available or under litigation. Meanwhile, sources in the Assembly claimed that at the time the tenders were awarded, two “essential” requirements weren’t met — possession of land by DJB and “letters of administrative approval and financial sanction from NMCG & Ministry of Urban Development”.
Denying both allegations, the DJB said funds from the NMCG are likely to come soon and that land is “under litigation”.