Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena on Thursday ordered the registration of an First Information Report (FIR) against 11 former Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials over alleged financial misappropriation and violation of norms. Saxena also ordered the withdrawal of pension benefits to nine retired officials.
“Lt Governor, VK Saxena, in his capacity as Chairman DDA, has ordered that an FIR be registered against the then Member (Finance) and Member (Engineering) of DDA, apart from 9 other officials of DDA in a 9-year-old case of blatant financial misappropriation and violation of Codal Formalities, CPWD Works Manual and General Financial Rules (GFR), that was reported in 2013,” said an official statement from the LG office. These nine DDA officials are all retired and include a Chief Engineer, Superintendent Engineer and Executive Engineer and others from the finance and accounts departments.
The said action will be taken against Abhay Kumar Sinha, then Member (Engineering), Venkatesh Mohan, the then Member (Finance), Om Prakash, CE (Retd) Nahar Singh SE (Retd) JP Sharma, EE (Retd), PK Chawla, Dy. CAO (Retd), Jasvir Singh, AAO (Retd), SC Mongia, AAD (Retd), SC Mittal, AE (Retd), RC Jain, AE (Retd) and Dilbagh Singh Bains, AE (Retd). Considering the grave misconduct and loss to the exchequer, the LG has also ordered to ”permanently withdraw the full pension benefits” of these retired officials, against the department’s recommendation of withdrawing only 25 percent of their pension, the statement said.
The case pertains to the up-gradation and beautification of the Coronation Park at Kingsway Camp that was awarded to M/s Ajab Singh and Co. in 2013. The tender cost of the work was Rs 14.24 crore but additional work amounting to Rs 114.83 crore was also carried out at Narela and Dhirpur, without any sanctions. “The original project cost of Rs 14.24 crore was escalated to Rs. 28.36 crores and the same was further deviated with additional work, at a different location altogether, amounting for Rs 114.83 Crore was executed without any sanctioned estimate. This resulted in the overall payment of Rs 142.08 Crore to the agency,” it said.
According to the statement, this gross irregularity was pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report in 2016, which concluded an overall deviation of 897.67 per cent (almost nine times) from the original work. This additional work should have been done through fresh tenders that would have not only saved crores in terms of competitive biddings but also ensured better quality, it said.
“However, in what appears to be a case of convenient collusion between the contractor and officials, all laid down norms were violated to benefit the contractor in lieu of probable commissions,” it said further. The execution of the additional work, here, was approved by the then Chief Engineer (North Zone) on the day of his retirement on 31 October 2014. The then Member (Engineering) DDA had granted in-principle approval for carrying out additional work amounting to Rs 114. 83 Crore, even as awarding any additional work required calling fresh tender.
Further, the DDA officials, from the Accounts and Finance department released payments by diverting funds from other heads, and thus violated the laid procedures. The LG expressed serious displeasure and took strict note of the manner in which the supervisory officers – Member (Engineering) and Member (Finance) failed in their responsibility to effectively supervise their subordinate officers, which resulted in the charged officers blatantly violating the provisions of Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Works Manual and GFR and causing avoidable loss to DDA.
”From the foregoing, I am of the considered view that the entire sequence of events amounts to criminal breach of trust and the angle of corruption cannot be ruled out. Hence, it is directed to register FIR in this case against all concerned, including incumbent Supervisory Officers, viz. Abhai Kumar Sinha EM, DDA and Venkatesh Mohan, EM, DDA within 15 days,” the LG said in his order. ”In addition, a foolproof system should be put in place for effective supervision and internal Audit mechanism, to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur in the future. A report to be submitted for my perusal within 15 days,” the order further read.
Notably, when the file first came to LG, about a month ago, it proposed action against the engineers concerned. However, the LG asked for the procedures and levels of clearances required to be put on record and accordingly pointed out as to who all were involved in the execution of this entire project. As it turned out, the strings went right up to the heads of Engineering and Finance departments of the DDA.