With the Comptroller and Auditor General reportedly accusing Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of irregularities in awarding certain Commonwealth Games contracts, the Delhi government on Wednesday stoutly rejected the allegations, saying she never "intervened to favour" any firm and all due processes were followed in finalising the contracts.
Delhi Chief Secretary P K Tripathi, reacting to media reports about the CAG findings, said Dikshit never intervened in award of any contracts and all the allegations leveled against her were "totally incorrect".
On allegations that Dikshit favoured M/s Space Age Switchgears to get a contract for installation of streetlights in certain areas even though it was disqualified earlier, Tripathi said the firm got the contract following an order of the Delhi high court.
"The company had challenged the disqualification in the high court and the court had passed an order to consider it," he said. He said initially three firms M/s Keselec Schreder, Bajaj Electricals (TRILUX) and Phillips Electronics India Ltd were selected by a high-powered committee. Following the selection M/s Space Age Switchgears gave a representation to Dikshit which was simply marked to the Engineer-in-Chief (PWD) by her and no directions whatsoever was given.
"This is normal practice as hundreds of petitioners meet the chief minister and desire to get their papers marked to the concerned department," said Tripathi.
However, Tripathi said the Works Advisory Board headed by principal secretary (PWD) and engineer-in-chief (PWD) later decided not to consider the financial bid of M/s Space Age Switchgears for the contract. "All the officers working in the Works Advisory Board also work under the chief minister, and the very fact makes it clear that she did not express any particular interest nor give any direction for its inclusion," he said.
Following the decision, the firm approached the high court of Delhi and the court in its order dated July 4, 2008 set aside disqualification of the firm by the Works Advisory Board.
On reported observation of the CAG that the Space Age imported lights at low costs and sold them to the government at higher rates, Tripathi said the firm may have showed a lower rate to evade customs duty on the imported lights. "I cannot comment on that. It is up to the customs department to investigate," he said not ruling out any wrongdoing by the firm.
Asked about the government's decision to go for imported lighting instead of locally-made ones, he said the decision to import them was based on a report of an expert panel which had said the CWG needed lights of international standard.
The top official of the government said the CAG "cannot indict anybody" as the decision and findings of it were not final. "The report will go to the Public Accounts Committee which will examine it further," he said. About reported irregularities in procurement of plants, he said a transparent procedure was followed by all the agencies which procured the plants.
Tripathi said the Forest Department procured a total 6.69 lakh plants at a cost of Rs 3.35 crore which include Rs 1.05 crore on cost of pots. The department procured one lakh plants from private sector at a total cost of Rs 44 lakh.