In a further escalation of the AAP-BJP clash, Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has directed the chief secretary of Delhi to file a case of fraud and embezzlement of more than Rs 20 crore of Delhi Jal Board’s (DJB) funds.
As per the LG office, many private persons, agencies, and officials of DJB and Corporation Bank (now Union Bank of India) are involved in the alleged fraud, which was detected in 2019.
A few days back, LG Saxena had asked the chief secretary to conduct an internal probe into the matter.
“It’s a unique case of corruption where embezzlement of funds was detected in 2019, yet rather than recovering the money and punishing the guilty, DJB extended the contract of the embezzlers by a year and also raised the service fee paid to them apart from relaxing terms of the contract,” reads the statement issued by the LG office.
Calling the matter a “blatant case of corruption”, Saxena’s office further said that over Rs 20 crores collected as water bills from individuals went to a private bank account rather than DJB’s bank account for several years.
“The DJB appointed its banker, Corporation Bank to collect water bills on its behalf through an order in June 2012 for three years, and the same was renewed further in 2016, 2017, and even in 2019, after the fraud was detected,” the statement stated.
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In violation of the contract, the bank engaged a private agency named Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd to collect cash and cheques and deposit the money in DJB’s account.
As per the LG office, the DJB, then headed by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, noticed “grave irregularities” regarding delayed/non-deposition of cash by the bank between 2012 and 2019.
“It was observed that Rs 20 crore (including interest, penalty, etc), though deposited by the consumers had not been transferred into the DJB’s bank account. Despite knowing all this, the board further extended the contract of Corporation Bank and in turn that of M/s Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd,” the statement revealed.
The LG has directed the chief secretary to lodge an FIR against the DJB officials concerned, bank authorities, and private persons involved in the alleged irregularities.
His office has asked the Delhi government to identify the guilty officials, fix responsibility, and send an action-taken report within 15 days.
Welcoming the LG directive, Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “If Central government employee, bank employee or Delhi Jal Board employee is found guilty, they should be punished.”
The development assumes significance as it involves the AAP supremo who is pitching for corruption-free and honest governments in several states to expand his footprints.
In the past, several agencies of the Central government have questioned senior AAP leaders and searched their properties. While deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia is facing a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the alleged liquor policy scam case, health minister Satyendar Jain is languishing in jail in a money laundering case.
Earlier this week, AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the liquor policy case.
AAP, on its part, has alleged that the BJP is harassing its senior leadership for thwarting ‘Operation Lotus’, a phrase used for BJP’s alleged attempts to buy MLAs in order to bring down governments.