With the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in effect, the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer’s office has received as many as 46 requests to clear projects — from bus procurement to the Hindi Academy’s annual function — that haven’t undergone the mandatory screening by a Chief Secretary-chaired panel.
The situation has forced the CEO’s office to issue a circular to all Delhi government departments and the municipal corporations, reminding them that only those proposals cleared by the screening committee be forwarded. Every department needs to set up separate panels for proposals under their domain, but the Chief Secretary chairs them all. Click for more election news
A long wait
With the poll code in place, the transport department has found itself in a fix. Its much publicised decision to procure e-buses is among the projects for which permission is to be sought. Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had said earlier the first batch of buses will be on roads by May. But tenders have not been floated yet. With officers not following set norms, Delhi’s wait has only become longer.
Procurement of buses is the most crucial project that is stuck. The Delhi government has not been able to procure a single bus since 2008 in the DTC fleet. A few have been procured under the cluster bus scheme.
According to information shared by the CEO office, the proposals relate to conducting interviews by the Delhi Cantonment Board, RFQP (request for pre-qualifications) for 385 electric buses from the Transport Department, RFQP for 1,350 cluster buses, permission request for organising the annual function of Hindi Academy among others.
When contacted, Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh told The Indian Express that the other proposals have mostly come from the DJB and PWD. “In their cases, they have some pressure from either NGT or some court, or some MP or MLA to expedite the work… As per rules, they have to approach the screening committee. If it recommends the proposal, then it comes to me,” he said.
The go-ahead from the committee is based on the urgency of the project. “As the screening committee wasn’t there in the previous elections, people are used to sending it to the CEO office,” Singh said.
In the circular, the CEO’s Office has reminded the government and civic agencies of the process.
“It has been observed that despite clear instructions on the subject, certain departments/ undertakings/agencies are still forwarding proposals seeking approval/clearance/NOCs to CEO, Delhi/ECI without getting clearance from the ‘screening committee’… All departments/ undertakings/agencies are accordingly advised not to forward any such reference directly to CEO, Delhi or the ECI without prior clearance from the screening committee,” the circular, signed by Chief Nodal Officer (MCC) Sanjay Goel, states.
Last week, the CEO office had issued another circular, flagging instances where projects and schemes were rolled out without necessary approvals to bypass the MCC that came into effect on March 10. Under MCC, only projects that have actually started on the ground after obtaining all necessary permissions before the MCC came into force can be continued. Other new works and projects (except projects of exigency/natural disasters etc) cannot be started without prior permission of the ECI.
A spokesperson for the Delhi government said all departments were instructed to follow norms and ensure permissions for projects are not delayed further.