Staff Reporter

Appointment of consultants for the power privatisation process in the Capital in 2002

PAC report strongly recommended that the matter be referred to the CVC for a thorough probe"Everything was done in indecent haste by flouting the law."

NEW DELHI: Asserting that appointment of consultants for the power privatisation process in the Capital in 2002 was done in violation of all the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Delhi Assembly has strongly recommended that the matter be referred to the CVC for a thorough probe to determine the complicity and motive of the officials involved in the exercise as everything was done in "indecent haste'' by flouting the law.

The PAC report tabled in the Assembly on Thursday by senior Congress MLA S. C. Vats is seen as a setback to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who had claimed total transparency in the power privatisation process.

It has alleged "complicity, negligence and deliberate connivance". The report also points to a "big scam'' in under-valuation of the erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board assets and has asked the Government to approach the CVC for a thorough probe into the conduct of all top DVB officials who not only ``mismanaged this prime service agency'' but also rendered it into a miserable organisation over a couple of years.

"It was observed during audit that no discernible procedure or method was followed for selection of consultants. There was no effort to invite competitive bids from the open market nor was there any attempt to first assess and define the scope of work to be assigned to the consultants which would have enabled a systematic and transparent comparison of the offers received,'' it states.

The report goes on to add that the Power Department failed to do the necessary groundwork before appointing the consultants. "The Department should have first decided the terms of reference on which the consultants were to act upon. Open tenders should have been floated and the terms of reference should have been made available to each bidder to ensure a level playing field.

Howsoever impressive the performance of SBI Caps may have been, the Government procedure on financial matters does not permit any department to `pro-actively' contact a single company for its services. In the absence of uniform terms of reference, the bids of the three companies SBI Caps, ICICI and ASCI could not be compared,'' it concludes.

The report says the Department failed to adhere to the prescribed financial procedures as well as the CVC guidelines while appointing SBI Caps as the consultant. "The matter may be referred to the CVC for a thorough probe. The Department's admission that DVB's fixed asset register was not complete indicates a very serious lapse on the part of the officers manning erstwhile DVB. It is surprising that the Department has not found it fit to seek reasons for this lapse. Instead it chose to gloss over it and opted for the easiest way out. The statement that the Department had no idea of its own assets is a grave admission of its inexcusable act. No government property, whether fixed or moveable, can be left unaccounted."