Central Public Works Dept in Rs 35-lakh Scam

Sep 22, 2011, 07:54 IST | Shashank Shekhar and Amit Singh

MiD DAY reveals CPWD authorised purchase of water level indicators for tanks at government offices and houses of bureaucrats at ten times the market rate

Water is precious. So are water level indicators, if you go by the spending pattern of Central Public Works Department (CPWD). MiD DAY has discovered that two different agencies authorised by CPWD have been installing water level indicators for the last couple of years in government buildings in order to check water wastage. And they have been acting pricey with the babus. These gadgets, which cost between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 (including installation cost) in the market, were put up at some prominent government buildings in the Capital at a whopping Rs 90,000. Also, most of them stopped functioning 6-7 months after the date of installation.

Troubled waters: NCERT water tank, in New Delhi

Same, same
For the last five years, from the beginning of 2006 to the end of 2010, CPWD has awarded this contract to two particular agencies - M/s Marketing Organistaion and M/s Century 21st. Tenders are issued every year. These agencies charged them around Rs 90,000 per indicator. They installed different kinds of indicators for the government including cordless ones. MiD DAY visited Nivedita Kunj in sector 10, RK Puram, one of the many sites where the gadgets were installed and found two of the cordless indicators not working. When asked the operator out there, he said, "This developed faults after 6-7 months since installation."

The pump house at the tank with a water level indicator Pics/Rajeev Tyagi

Posing as a customer when MiD DAY called up M/s Century 21st, a man who introduced himself as Ashok Yadav, working as a supervisor with the company, picked up the call. Without even caring to know the details of the kind of indicator the customer was looking for, Yadav asked, "Where do you want to install it? Rates for private and government organisations are different."

Though the instrument installed by the company was a cordless one, Yadav specifically gave instructions that those indicators are not good and don't last long. "We don't give any warranty for the cordless instrument. There are others which are better and cheaper too. While the cordless costs around Rs 9000, the other instrument would cost only Rs 5,000."

When asked the reason for the price variation for installing the same equipment at government and private places, Yadav said, "When it comes to government organisations there are several other expenses. The officers have to be paid commission and also labour charges go up. Due to all this prices can go up to Rs 65000-95000.
Another company, Labgear India which deals in such products said that cordless indicators are expensive and can cost between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh depending on usage. But the ones installed at the housing society and office buildings are cheaper. This company also iterated the fact that cordless instruments don't last long.

Indicators of scam
Some of the places where these indicators were installed are Nivedita Kunj in sector 10 R K Puram, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) campus and Department of Science and Technology in Qutab Institutional Area, Pragati Vihar Hostel and Lodhi Road Complex (a residential complex for central government employees) in Lodhi Colony, Central Soil and Materials Research Station (CSMRS) in Hauz Khas. In the last five years, both the private agencies have made bills worth Rs 40 lakh to be paid by CPWD, which in
normal circumstances wouldn't have cost more than Rs 1.5-2 lakh.

When MiD DAY tried to get in touch with CPWD officials they excused themselves from commenting. Mukesh Vij, Chief Engineer, Delhi region, CPWD said that he is far from the Capital and couldn't respond on this issue right away. On the condition of anonymity an official from the same department said, "This is just the tip of the iceberg. If an inquiry is set up on this, the scam would go into crores. Babus are pocketing lakhs and lakhs of rupees in the entire deal."

CWG Effect
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in August registered a case against eight Central Public Works Department (CPWD) officials and two city-based firms for irregularities in awarding the tender for renovation of a pool complex for the Commonwealth Games 2010, an official said. CBI also conducted raids at 16 places in Delhi, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur in Rajasthan, which yielded incriminating documents. Earlier the CBI had also conducted raids at 16 places in Delhi, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur in Rajasthan, which yielded incriminating documents. The accused persons conspired with the private parties and artificially jacked up prices so as to justify the award of work to these firms. The accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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