Another skeleton in Vikas Sadan cupboard

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. Yet another case of financial irregularities has come to light in Delhi Development Authority now with the Central Vigilance Commission finding serious discrepancies in the manner in which CRRI was "arbitrarily'' appointed for consulting service for Master Plan roads in Dwarka and the manner in which Unitech Limited was awarded work even when it was "not fulfilling the eligibility criteria''.

In a letter to the Chief Engineer (Dwarka), the Technical Examiner of CVC, Vinayak Rai, has noted that CRRI was appointed arbitrarily at a lump sum value of Rs 1.16 crores without open tenders and competition at the instance of the Vice-Chairman of DDA.

The letter says that while the completion date for the work was September 25, 2002, the work had not been completed till December 2002, when the inspections were carried out. Wondering why CRRI was contracted when DDA has deputed seven junior engineers and two assistant engineers for supervision and quality control, the note said structural designs and drawings were also provided by CRRI without being checked by DDA engineers.

With respect to CRRI, the note also observed that it had intimated that quantities in the project would not be deviated more than 5 per cent when the estimate was prepared based on survey conducted by CRRI and DDA, but still large-scale deviation in quantities occurred.

The work, which comprised strengthening of an existing two- lane carriageway, construction of an additional four lanes, service roads, footpaths, drainage works, fixing of kerb stones and construction of bridges and culverts, was estimated to cost Rs 29.52 crores and the tender was bagged by Unitech Limited at Rs 29.91 crores.

The note said applications for pre-qualification for four different works for construction of Master Plan roads in Dwarka were invited and 37 firms had obtained the bid documents of which 27 submitted their bids. However, as per the pre-qualification document issued to various firms, the eligibility criteria as mentioned in press advertisement was altogether different from the one published in the newspapers.

Finally the bids were scrutinised and nine agencies were "pre-qualified'' with approval of the Lieutenant-Governor on September 13, 2000. But it was discovered that the pre- qualification was not done properly. As the Chief Engineer's recommendations, only four firms had fulfilled the criteria laid down by DDA while the other five -- including Unitech Limited -- had not fulfilled it.

Also, there was a lapse of relaxing pre-qualification criteria in favour of particular firms without re-inviting applications, the note said, adding that "undue benefit'' had been extended to Unitech Limited.

Further, the letter said that while the Director (Works) had in his noting of September 11, 2000, stated that Unitech falls under Category C and not under category E, the Chief Engineer (Dwarka) had made an observation to the contrary resulting in pre-qualification of the company.

On the issue of call of tenders and award of work, the letter said that Unitech Ltd, which was awarded the contract at its negotiated amount that worked out to 0.88 per cent above the estimated cost, had not quoted the rate for 800-mm diapile and work has been awarded to them by considering the lowest justified rate for this item. But, it said, the tender should have been rejected as per Clause 10 of PWD which states that "all tender in which any of the prescribed condition are not fulfilled or incomplete in any respect are liable to be rejected.''

On how DDA officials had further favoured the contractor, the note said that as per minutes of the pre-bid meeting on October 11, 2000, land for activities like workshops, stores and labour camp was to be provided by DDA at Rs 1 lakh per acre per month but no deduction of land rent has been made from the contractor's bill.

Also, most of the tests had been performed by DDA at its own expense in its laboratories even when, as per contract conditions, the testing charges were to be borne by the contractor. "More alarmingly, the quality of construction has not been monitored properly by DDA which has not checked the actual weight of steel and reinforcement bars and made payments on the basis of standard weight.''

And while the contract does not stipulate that tack coat or primer coat are to be separately paid for, DDA made primer cost payments of Rs 25.98 lakhs and tack coat payments of Rs 8.88 lakhs to the contractor. Besides, the note added, 29 other items had been paid for by DDA till the date of inspection when only one was sanctioned.