Apart from accusing Arvind Kejriwal of having received a Rs 2 crores bribe for settling a land deal for Kejriwal’s relative, the Delhi Chief Minister is facing another serious allegation of going slow on the probe into the Rs 400 crore Delhi water tanker scam, which allegedly took place during the Sheila Dikshit regime.
What is this ‘tanker scam’ all about:
The alleged scam dates back to 2012 when Sheila Dikshit was the Chief Minister of Delhi and also the Chairman of Delhi Jal Board. The Delhi Jal Board had awarded tenders for hiring 385 GPS-enabled stainless steel water tankers from private companies to supply water in the areas which lacked regular piped water supply.
All the findings, which are now in the public domain are chiefly as a result of the Delhi Government constituting a 5 member fact-finding committee in June 2015 headed by then Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra. The committee submitted a report regarding the scam in August 2015.
According to the report, the whole process of awarding tenders for hiring water tankers was dodgy. The irregularities were so prevalent that they had resulted in a loss of about Rs 400 crores to the public exchequer.
Of the many irregularities pointed out in the report, those which stand out are:
- Tender being awarded to a private company despite “exorbitantly higher rates”
- Appointment of a consultant arbitrarily on a nomination basis causing a loss of Rs 36.5 crores
- As per norms, tender of one company was rejected on the ground that it was the only applicant, but work was later awarded to another company on the basis of a single tender.
- There are also allegations that the Sheila Dikshit government had created an artificial water crisis in some parts of Delhi in order to benefit the ‘tanker mafia’.
The Kapil Mishra-led fact finding Committee had recommended an FIR against Sheila Dikshit and a probe by the CBI and the ACB into the scam.
Things went surprisingly dormant after that and almost a year later in mid-June 2016, the AAP government sent the report to the PM and the then Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung. Jung forwarded the recommendations to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for appropriate action.
This delay apparently hadn’t gone unnoticed and the leader of opposition in Delhi assembly, Vijender Gupta had written to the Lieutenant-Governor demanding a probe against Kejriwal for suppressing the fact finding committee report, causing inexplicable delay in taking actions and not cancelling the contract for water tankers.
Scam news revived by Kapil Mishra:
6th May: Kapil Mishra was sacked from the post of Water Minister a day after he alleged in a letter to the ACB chief MK Meena that the probe into the matter was going at a snail’s pace.
7th May: Kapil Mishra hurls a bombshell alleging that he was axed from the Delhi Cabinet for his insistence on bringing those involved in the water tanker scam to justice.
8th May: Kapil Mishra submits “proof” to the ACB regarding the Rs 400-crore scam.
Allegations against Kejriwal:
Kapil Mishra has alleged that Kejriwal and his two associates influenced and delayed the investigation into the scam. Now there are reports coming out in the media which claim that Kejriwal had shielded Sheila Diskhit in regards to the scam.
Also one more reason why the probe might have been delayed was the fact that Mishra in 2015 had allegedly written to Kejriwal claiming that the findings about the scam could also spell trouble not only for Sheila Dikshit and co but also for people in the current AAP government.