AAP apprehends DTC 'bus purchase scam’ will be timed to blow up before Punjab poll

While Delhi Dy CM alleges the CBI inquiry ordered into the purchase of 1000 buses is politically motivated, both Congress and the BJP say the devil lies in the Annual Maintenance Contract

Representative image
Representative image

Amitabh Srivastava

F ollowing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registering a PE in the alleged DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) bus purchase scam, charges and counter charges are flying thick and fast. Not surprisingly, Delhi Government has alleged the inquiry to be politically motivated.

The inquiry is related to two tenders- one for purchase of 1,000 buses at a cost of Rs. 850 crores and another for its Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) which was worth Rs. 3,412 crores for 12 years—floated by Delhi Government in March last year. The bus procurement contract was awarded to JBM Auto and Tata Motors on a 70:30 ratio.

With Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gearing up to contest the upcoming election in Punjab, the CBI inquiry is timed to coincide with the election, is the charge. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has also gone on record to allege that CBI planned to name 15 people including AAP leaders to defame the party. “But we are not afraid”, he has asserted.

Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer considered close to Home Minister Amit Shah has been brought in as the Delhi Police Commissioner to facilitate more trumped-up charges against the Delhi Government, Sisodia went on to allege dramatically.

“The Prime Minister has now used his Brahmastra Rakesh Asthana for this task. We have also learnt from our sources that Rakesh Asthana has promised that he would get the job done,” Sisodia was quoted as saying.

Anil Chaudhary, President of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee told National Herald that he had met both the CVC and the CBI with details of the Rs. 4,000 crore scam and hoped that the agencies would expose the Kejriwal government. In fact, both Congress and BJP leaders had called on Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, demanding a CBI inquiry into the alleged scam.

Chaudhary claimed that DTC under Kejriwal had destroyed the mass road transport system in Delhi. In 2013, he claimed, there were 7,000 DTC buses of which around 2, 200 are either unusable or are more than nine years old. Not a single new bus has been added to the fleet since 2010, when new buses were purchased before the Commonwealth Games.

The issue was also raised in the assembly by Vijender Gupta, BJP MLA. On the directions of the LG the state CVC set up a three- member committee headed by former bureaucrat OP Aggarwal and comprising Principal Secretary (Vigilance) KR Meena and Transport Commissioner Ashish Kundra to look into the matter.

In August, the Union Home Ministry (MHA) after examining the report of the three experts asked CBI to look into the matter. The MHA also informed Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev about the CBI probe on August 16. Since then, CBI is learnt to have registered a PE (Preliminary Enquiry) akin to an FIR before registering a Regular case (RC).

“It is common sense that an Annual Maintenance Contract cannot be four times the cost of the buses. The Kejriwal government has not been able to buy a single bus in its seven years in office and many of the buses are on the verge of being discarded due to strict norms of the National Green Tribunal regarding vehicular pollution,” says Chaudhary.

Asked why the Rs. 3,200 crores contract was a corrupt practice since the AMC was valid for 12 years, he said, “These people are glossing over the fact that every new vehicle comes with a free guarantee and servicing for three years.”

But the trick, critics claim, lies in discarding the buses at regular intervals, selling them off every three years and replacing them with a new fleet. Delhi could have staggered the number of buses purchased every year and discarding a lot of them in threeyear gaps.

“We could have bought 4,000 new buses with zero AMC for three years with the same amount,” Chaudhary argues.

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