New Delhi: The crucial report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which was tabled in the Parliament on Friday, raised serious allegations against Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for gross irregularities and overspending related to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) held last year.
The CAG report will be sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for further investigation into the matter.
Coming down heavily on Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the CAG report says her government committed serious lapses and irregularities in the bidding process for procurement of different Games-related items and pointed out several instances of wasteful expenditure.
Besides the Delhi Government, the CAG report also blames several ministries and various agencies including the DDA, MCD, NDMC and PWD for the entire mess.
The CAG also observed several instances of wasteful expenditure by the Delhi government and civic agencies amounting to the tune of over Rs 100 crores over streets-capping and an excess expenditure of Rs 31.07 crore on street lighting by MCD, NDMC and PWD.
The 743-page long report blames the Delhi government for the manner in which it went about its project for "Modernisation of Delhi Street Lighting System", since the decision on use of imported lighting was taken with the consent of the Chief Minister.
The CAG report mentions how Spage Age - one of the disqualified firms bidding for street lighting – was later declared qualified "irregularly" after the firm appealed to the Chief Minister.
The findings by the federal auditor have embarrassed the ruling party - Congress - and there are speculations that the party may ask Delhi Chief Minister to step down. This will give Congress a moral high ground against the main opposition BJP, which recently forced its corruption-tainted Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to quit in Karnataka.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today evaded a direct reply to the charges saying her government will put its view before Public Accounts Committee, if asked.
Pointing out that they were yet to receive a copy of the 743-page report by the CAG, Dikshit made a brief statement to the media after presiding over an unscheduled Cabinet meeting during which the ministers expressed their full support to her on the issue.
"The CAG report has been placed before Parliament. We are yet to get a copy of it. We are trying to get a copy of it.
"All I can assure you that when the CAG report goes to the PAC, in accordance with the well-established practice, whatever departments are asked to come before the PAC and answer any query that the members of PAC may want to be answered, we will cooperate with them completely and fully," the Chief Minister told reporters at the media briefing during which all the ministers were present.
The observations made by the CAG are more or less similar to the findings of the Shunglu Panel, which was equally critical of the Delhi Chief Minister.
The contents of the CAG report, which was leaked to the media earlier, triggered angry reactions from the ruling side, which sought to shift the blame on previous NDA regime for appointing Kalmadi and the entire CWG mess.
The Shunglu panel report had said that the Delhi government`s plan of having a `green` Delhi was flawed and that there was an overall wastage of Rs 256 crore in street lighting, street scaping etc, whereas the savings could have been to the tune of Rs 159 crore.
These findings are almost the same as the CAG`s conclusions.
PMO gave Kalmadi a free run
The federal auditor also blamed the PMO for giving a long rope to IOA chief and CWG Organising Committee (OC) chief Suresh Kalmadi in spending crores of taxpayers’ money in the names of preparations for the sporting event.
The crucial report says that PMO repeatedly ignored warnings against Games Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi. Blaming Kalmadi for the entire mess, the CAG report said, “The Organising Kalmadi led by IOA chief took several wrong decisions. It failed to explain the delays in planning overlays. Its selection of consultants was arbitrary.”
“There were differences in rates for overlays, furnitures etc. The CWG OC gave contract to AM films without proper verification. The diffused chain of commands led to delay in planning and triggered overspending,’ the CAG report alleges.
BJP seeks Sheila’s ouster
The main opposition, BJP, today stepped up its attack on Delhi Chief Minister shortly after the explosive CAG report was tabled in the Parliament.
"I think now it is the only moral duty of Dikshit that she must resign," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament.
"If not, the Congress high command must ask her to step down immediately and they can elect their new chief minister. Moreover, PM must take moral responsibility for the CWG mess and quit," he said.
CBI may use CAG report to file cases
There are reports that the CBI may also register cases based on the findings of the CAG’s report on `irregularities` committed by the Delhi government in CWG projects.
Sources claim that the central probe agency is likely to investigate the criminality and other aspects of irregularities involved in the projects audited by CAG and start registering cases.
Earlier this year, the CBI registered several cases in CWG projects carried out by Delhi-based agencies including MCD, PWD, DDA, NDMC and others.
"We are waiting for the CAG report to be tabled in (the) Parliament after which we will begin scanning all documents related to the projects. If criminality is found, cases would be registered immediately," a top CBI official was quoted as saying.