Image: PTI

In a major shocker to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi AAP government, the vigilance directorate has recommended a detailed investigation by a specialized agency into the alleged irregularities and corruption by the Kejriwal government in the construction of 2,405 classrooms in 194 government schools in Delhi. 

The Delhi government’s vigilance directorate has submitted the report about the alleged scam to the chief secretary. The Delhi vigilance directorate (DoV) has also recommended “fixing responsibilities” of the Education Department and PWD officials involved in the alleged mishandling amounting to nearly Rs 1,300 crore.

The Vigilance Directorate recommended that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) consider its findings, as well as responses from the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Delhi government’s Education Department.

The Central Vigilance Commission had outlined “grave irregularities” in the Public Works Department’s (PWD) construction of over 2,400 classrooms in Delhi government schools in a report dated February 17, 2020.

Notably, the CVC sent the report to the Delhi government’s vigilance directorate in February 2020, requesting comments on the matter. However, the AAP government did not take the report seriously until August this year, when Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena directed the Chief Secretary to investigate the delay and submit a report.

Highlighting the findings of the DoV report, the Central Vigilance Commission in its report said that other than several procedural lapses and violation of rules and manuals to tamper with the tender process, the DoV report outlined the “role of private agencies/persons namely ‘M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates,’ who despite not being appointed as a consultant, attended an important meeting held on June 21, 2016, in the chamber of the then PWD Minister and influenced the Minister for post-tender changes done in the work contracts in the name of ‘richer specifications’ resulting in additional financial ramifications of Rs 205.45 crore.”

The report further states that extra-constitutional persons/agencies were dictating terms to government officials, and the entire administration at both, policy and the executive level was implementing their directions. This goes in clear violation of the Transaction of Business Rules (TBR), 1993, and other rules and guidelines. Such an approach will result in “administrative anarchy and chaos.”

Notably, in April 2015, CM Arvind Kejriwal directed the construction of additional classrooms in Delhi government schools. The PWD was tasked with building 2405 classrooms in 193 schools. It conducted a survey to determine classroom requirements and projected a total requirement of 7180 equivalent classrooms (ECR) in 194 schools, nearly three times the requirement of 2405 classrooms.

On August 25, 2019, CVC received a complaint about irregularities and cost overruns in classroom construction. Without calling a tender, the construction costs increased by up to 90% in the name of “richer specifications.” The Delhi government approved a Rs 500 crore cost increase without a tender.

As per the observations of the CVC investigation report, tenders were floated for the works that were originally proposed and approved, but the awarded contract value later differed by 17% to 90% due to “richer specifications.”

Consequently, the cost increased to Rs.326.25 crore, which is 53% more than the tender award amount.

“With an additional expenditure of Rs 37 crore, 1214 toilets were built in 194 schools, compared to the requirement of 160 toilets. The Delhi government counted toilets and projected them as classrooms. In 141 schools, only 4027 classrooms were built. The sanctioned amount for these projects was Rs.989.26 crore, and the total tender value was Rs 860.63 crore, but the actual expenditure was Rs 1315.57 crore. No new tender was called, but the additional work was completed. A number of works were left unfinished. Serious violation of the GFR, the CPWD Works Manual, and the CVC Guidelines,” the CVC report said.

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