The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) flagged “gross irregularities” in the proposed procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi government soon after the process was initiated in 2019, a government source said.
According to the source, the DTC flagged “deviations from established norms” and “procedures related to bus procurement” in a report on the issue.
It was this report by the DTC that the Chief Secretary brought to the attention of Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, who subsequently forwarded it to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), asking it to be clubbed with an ongoing investigation related to alleged irregularities in a similar bus procurement bid.
“According to this report, the Delhi government violated Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines and General Financial Rules (GFR) in the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses,” the source said.
“The government backtracked and scrapped the tender process only after a comprehensive report by the Deputy Commissioner of the DTC exposed the wrongdoings being done in the department under the direct supervision of Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot,” the source also said.
The source added that despite being brought to his notice, Mr. Gahlot “saw” but did not sign the files about the alleged “discrepancies”.
According to the report, the DTC had floated a single tender for the procurement of 1,000 BS-IV buses; whereas in the pre-bid process, the procurement was divided into two batches of 400 BS-IV buses and 600 BS-VI buses.
The tender itself, however, remained a single entity and bidders could have made the bid for the entire quantity of these buses of both types.
“One particular company made a bid for 600 buses only. Therefore, its bid should have been summarily rejected and the process should have begun from scratch. But that did not happen,” the source said.
“The DTC also invited a company that bid for buses in one category while negotiating on the basis of rates quoted by a company which had bid for buses in a different category. This action of DTC was without any justification and the price negotiation was flagged as being violative of GFR and CVC guidelines,” the source also said.
The DTC report, stating that the tender process had been vitiated, recommended that an inquiry be conducted to fix responsibility for the lapses, in addition to recommending that the DTC scrap the tender and call fresh bids “without any delay”.
Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri alleged that wrongdoings in the procurement of buses was being done “under the direct supervision of the AAP government”.
In response, AAP termed the allegations “a symbol of BJP’s frustration.”
“When they found nothing against AAP even after sending the ED, CBI, Police, Income- Tax Dept. after us, they have resorted to baseless allegations and slander,” the AAP stated. On Sunday AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “The L-G has sent the bus matter to the CBI thrice now, despite the probe agency having found nothing so far.”