New Delhi: Soon after the Lieutenant Governor gave his approval for a CBI investigation Sunday into the alleged irregularities involved in the purchase of buses, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) clarified that it never purchased 1,000 low-floor, air-conditioned buses and that the tender was cancelled.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said the CBI had also begun a preliminary inquiry into the allegations of the scam, but it did not find anything in the last 1.5 years.
“No bus was procured under the procurement plans and no contract was awarded. The process was put on hold after the inquiry into the process began, so there is no question of corruption. Not even a single-rupee payment was made and the government put the tendering process on hold after the inquiry started, with plans to restart the process only after the inquiry is done,” Bharadwaj said in a press conference Sunday.
Bharadwaj also said that AAP MPs and MLAs have levelled charges of corruption against the Lt. Governor, but he was not ready for the probe. The L-G threatened us with defamation notices, but we will continue to raise questions, he added.
The complaint regarding alleged irregularities was given by the chief secretary of Delhi Transport Corporation on 9 June. It was forwarded to the chief secretary on 11 July for eliciting comments from the concerned departments of the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) and recommendations for the way forward.
“Irregularities in the bid of July 2019 for procurement of 1,000 low-floor BS-IV and BS-VI buses and a bid of March 2020 for purchase and annual maintenance contract of low-floor BS-VI buses,” read the complaint. It alleged that the Delhi integrated multi-modal transit system was appointed as a bid management consultant for this tender with the aim to facilitate wrongdoing.
In July 2021, the AAP claimed that a Centre-appointed committee had given a clean chit to the Delhi government in procurement of buses after analysing 3,000 documents.
After the approval of the CBI probe, the AAP took a dig at the L-G saying, “Delhi needs a more educated Lieutenant Governor.”
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‘Minister appointed as DTC chairman’
Early in the day, in a press conference chaired by BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia to discuss the DTC bus tender issue, Bhatia said it “was a surprising decision” that Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was appointed as the DTC chairman by the AAP in 2018.
“In the history of DTC since 1970, it has never happened that the chairman of DTC was a political person,” Bhatia said.
But, in 1963-64, Congress MP Amar Nath Chawla was the DTC chairman.
“A thousand buses are tendered in Delhi and there are many irregularities in that tender. The rules of the tender are violated to favour their favorite company in the purchase of buses. Tenders are awarded by flouting the guidelines of CVC,” Bhatia had also alleged.
The BJP had alleged that in January 2021, the Delhi government had placed a work order of 1,000 low-floor buses costing Rs. 890 crore and along with the order, it also took out the tender for the annual maintenance of the buses costing Rs. 350 crore, which was also handed to the same bus suppliers.
(Edited by Siddarth Muralidharan)
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