Four months after video recording of Cabinet meetings was started, the Aam Aadmi Party dispensation decided to end the practice after a meeting on July 10 where multiple departments expressed concerns about the appointment of a consultant for procuring 1,000 electric buses.
Chief Secretary attack
After the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP MLAs at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s home on February 19, the Cabinet meeting that took place on February 27 was recorded by CMO officials. From the next meeting onwards, the General Administration Department took over the responsibility of recording the Cabinet meetings.
This had become the norm till the meeting on July 10, when the Chief Minister instructed officials to stop recording the Cabinet meetings from then on, according to three senior officials with knowledge of the situation.
After the meeting, which had been called to approve the hiring of a consultant, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said at a press conference that there had been “technical deficiencies” in the proposal, which would be ironed out and presented at a Cabinet meeting the next day. On July 11, Mr. Sisodia announced at a press conference after the meeting that Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Ltd., which operates CNG cluster buses currently, had been appointed as the consultant for the e-bus procurement.
Concerns by many depts.
However, according to documents related to the proposal that were accessed by The Hindu , multiple departments had raised concerns about the consultant appointed. Among the significant concerns were that DIMTS Ltd was not an expert agency for electric buses and that it had asked for an exorbitant fee. Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, however, disagreed, saying that DIMTS had taken many steps to enhance its capacity in the field, including sending its experts for national and international conferences, visiting manufacturing facilities in China and conducting a seminar in Delhi, according to documents.
As The Hindu had reported on July 11, approval for the proposed fleet of 1,000 electric buses, priced at an estimated Rs. 2,500 crore in total, was postponed due to what government sources had claimed were issues related to financial propriety.
According to the documents, the preparation of a Detailed Proejct Report for a Rs. 2,000 crore project was flagged as a requirement by the Planning Department. Similarly, the Finance Department suggested that a DPR be prepared because of the size of investment, which would be approximately Rs. 2,500 crore for the operation of buses and Rs. 370 crore for the charging infrastructure. The Transport Department concurred, stating that a DPR should be prepared before the procurement of 1,000 electric buses was considered. Mr. Sisodia, who is also Finance Minister, said the preparation of a DPR was a moot point at this stage, according to the documents.
BJP slams party
While Mr. Sisodia did not respond to request for comment, the Opposition BJP attacked the AAP government for stopping the video recording.
“What happened in the Cabinet meeting that day that led to the order to stop recording meetings in the future? On the other hand, the AAP government is proposing to install CCTV cameras inside school classrooms,” said Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta.