Delhi: Directorate of Vigilance suggests probe into possible major scam in gov't classroom construction

Apart from several procedural lapses and violation of rules to tamper with the tender process, the role of a private firm in influencing the Public Works Department is being probed
Image of classroom for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Image of classroom for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

The Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) of the Delhi government has submitted its report to the chief secretary in a case of alleged "irregularities and corruption" in the construction of 2,405 classrooms in 193 schools and has recommended a probe into the matter. According to a report by IANS, the DoV report, prepared after seeking the responses of the Education Department and the Public Works Department (PWD), prima facie points towards a major scam and has suggested "a detailed investigation by a specialised agency". 

Apart from several procedural lapses and violation of rules and manuals to tamper with the tender process, the DoV, in its report, has specifically underlined the role of private persons "M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates", who, without being appointed as a consultant, not only attended a crucial meeting held on June 21, 2016, in the chamber of the then PWD Minister but also influenced the Minister for post-tender changes done in the work contracts in the name of "richer specifications" that resulted in additional financial implications of Rs 205.45 crore, reported IANS.

The DoV's report on the matter comes after a complaint dated August 22, 2022, with regard to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report dated February 17, 2020, was filed. This complaint highlighted glaring irregularities in the construction of additional classrooms in different schools of the Delhi government by PWD. The CVC had sent the report to the DoV seeking its comments on the matter, reported IANS.

The Vigilance Department has also recommended "fixing the responsibilities of the concerned officials of the Education Department and PWD" who were involved in the bungling to the tune of nearly Rs 1,300 crore. It has also recommended forwarding its findings along with the replies of PWD and the Education Department to the CVC for consideration, a source told IANS on Friday, November 25.

In the report, the Secretary (Vigilance) has observed that "extra-constitutional agencies/persons (like M/s Babbar and Babbar Associates) were running the administration and dictating the terms and conditions to the officers and the entire administration, both at the policy level as well as the execution level, and were implementing such directions of a private person in a place like national capital of the country, which is not only against TBR (full form in brackets), 1993 and other rules, regulations and guidelines, besides being a serious threat to the securities aspect. This kind of approach will lead to administrative anarchy and chaos."

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