LG orders FIR against DJB officials over ₹20-cr. embezzlement

AAP welcomes probe; BJP demands special attention to ‘role of Kejriwal who was DJB Chairman when the scam came to light’

September 25, 2022 01:54 am | Updated 01:54 am IST - New Delhi

AAP chief spokesperson and DJB vice-chairman Saurabh Bharadwaj 

AAP chief spokesperson and DJB vice-chairman Saurabh Bharadwaj  | Photo Credit: File photo

Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena on Saturday directed the Chief Secretary to get an FIR lodged against Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials, among others, for alleged embezzlement of ₹20 crore, collected as water bills from individuals, which went to a private bank account rather than DJB “for several years”.

The L-G also asked for the identification of the officials allegedly involved in siphoning off funds and sought a report on the matter within 15 days.

The Aam Aadmi party welcomed the inquiry and said that it had been recommended by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia himself. AAP chief spokesperson and DJB vice-chairman Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “The allegation is about collusion between the Central government’s Union Bank of India and some employees of the DJB from 2012. We welcome all such inquiries. DJB CEO had told about this to Manish ji and he had recommended an investigation into it.”

The BJP, meanwhile, has demanded that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s role be specifically probed since he was the DJB Chairman at the time when the alleged embezzlement came to light.

“The DJB appointed its banker to collect water bills on its behalf through an order in June 2012 for three years. The same was renewed furtherin 2016, 2017 and again in 2019, even after the fraud was detected,” a government source said.

‘Contract renewed despite irregularities’

“The bank, in total violation of the terms of the contract and in the knowledge of DJB officials, engaged a private agency for collection of cash and cheques and for deposition of the same in the DJB’s bank account,” the source said.

According to the source, it was noticed while extending the contract of the bank beyond October 10, 2019 that “grave irregularities” had occurred regarding delayed and non-deposition of cash by the bank during the period of contract from July 2012 to October 10, 2019.

An amount of ₹20 crore, including interest and penalty among other components, though deposited by the consumers had not been transferred into the DJB’s bank account, the source said.

“Despite knowing all this, the DJB, headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, extended the contract of the and in turn that of the private agency that was working as the bank’s collection agent till 2020,” the source said.

“Rather than making the erring vendors pay the swindled ₹20 crore and punishing them, the DJB not only extended their contract, but increased their service fee from₹5 to ₹6 per bill. The L-G has taken a serious note of this fact which establishes prima facie connivance,” the source added.

According to the source, Mr. Saxena has directed that an FIR be lodged against the DJB officials concerned, bank authorities and the private entities involved, and the amount be recovered at the earliest.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said the present case was just the tip of the iceberg. “Chief Minister Kejriwal was the Chairman of the Delhi Jal Board at the time of this scam... He did not keep any department of the Delhi government with him but preferred to be the DJB chairman, why? Clearly, without the consent of Kejriwal such a scam could not have happened,” Mr. Bidhuri said.

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