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Delhi: Vigilance directorate highlights Rs 1300 crore scam in constructing school classrooms, recommends probe

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The Delhi government’s Vigilance Directorate (DoV) has recommended a “detailed investigation by a specialized agency” into the “grave irregularities and corruption” committed by the Arvind Kejriwal government in the construction of 2,405 classrooms in 193 government schools in the national capital.

According to DoV sources, the Delhi government’s vigilance directorate has submitted its report to the Chief Secretary on the matter.

The Vigilance Department has also recommended “fixing the responsibilities of the concerned officials of the Education Department and PWD” who were involved in the alleged bungling to the tune of nearly Rs 1300 crore.

It has also recommended that its findings be forwarded to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for consideration, along with the responses of the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Education Department.

The CVC highlighted irregularities in the Public Works Department’s construction of additional classrooms in various Delhi Government schools in a report dated February 17, 2020. (PWD).

The CVC sent the report to the DoV in February 2020, seeking its comments on the matter, but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government did not pursue the matter for two and a half years until Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena directed the Chief Secretary to investigate the delay and submit a report in this regard in August this year.

“Apart from several procedural lapses and violation of rules and manuals to tamper with the tender process, the DoV, in its report, has specifically underlined the role of private persons viz. ‘M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates’, who, without being appointed as a consultant, not only attended a crucial meeting held on June 21, 2016, in the chamber of the then PWD Minister but also influenced the Minister for post-tender changes done in the work contracts in the name of “richer specifications” that resulted into additional financial implications of Rs 205.45 crore, the report said.

“Extra constitutional agencies/persons (like M/s Babbar & Babbar Associates) were running the administration and dictating the terms and conditions to the officers and the entire administration both at policy level as well as the execution level were implementing such directions of a private person in a place like National Capital of the Country, which is not only against TBR, 1993 and other rules, regulations and guidelines, besides being a serious threat to securities aspect. This kind of approach will lead to administrative anarchy and chaos,” the report further reads.

In April 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal directed the construction of additional classrooms in Delhi government schools. The PWD has entrusted the task of constructing 2405 classrooms in 193 schools. It carried out a survey to find out the requirement of the classrooms and based on the survey, projected a total requirement of 7180 equivalent classrooms (ECR) in 194 schools, almost three times the requirement of 2405 classrooms.

CVC received a complaint on August 25, 2019, regarding irregularities and cost overruns in the construction of classrooms. The construction cost escalated by up to 90 percent in the name of “richer specifications” without calling tender. The Delhi Government sanctioned a cost escalation of Rs 500 crore without tender. Blatant violation of GFR, CPWD Works Manual and poor quality of construction, and incomplete work.

According to the findings of the CVC investigation report, tenders were floated for the works initially proposed and approved, but later on, awarded contract value varied from 17 percent to 90 percent on account of “richer specifications”.

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

It stated, “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”.

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