Delhi’s AAP government has cleared inquiry commission that may question the former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Lieautenant Governor on scam linked to fitness tests on CNG buses.
According to reports, the independent commission of inquiry set up by Delhi government to probe the CNG fitness scam will be headed by retd Justice S N Agarwal.
Investigating what came to be known as the CNG scam was a major poll issue by Arvind Kejriwal both in 2013 and 2015 assembly elections.
What’s CNG Fitness Scam
Way back in 2002, the Delhi government then headed by Sheila Dikshit, following a Supreme Court order, had kickstarted a process to test fitness on public transport vehicles using CNG. It hired ESP USA as consultant for this purpose. But later, the contract was awarded to another company called ‘ESP India Pvt Ltd’ allegedly with the collusion of officials and intention to steal funds. Surprisingly, this contract was awarded to the firm even beofre it was registered as a company. According to the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB), the company conducted two fitness tests, but also charged for a third, which was neither required nor conducted. There are allegations that Rs 1,600 collected for each test was siphoned off the alleged scamsters, who stole an estimated Rs 100 crore.
In 2013, a senior transport department official MA Usmani, whose role is under scanner, claimed he had been “under pressure from senior officials of the government to sign the tender documents.”
Usmani, along with other two officials from his department namely V K Gupta and Ashok Gupta submitted three letters to the LG, including one that purportedly authorised giving the tender to “ESP.” Surprisingly, in August 2013, the LG said that no case was made out, and denied the ACB sanction for prosecution. It was only after the ACB asked for a re-consideration, the LG agreed to constitute a two-member committee consisting of Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal, and retired IAS officer Ramesh Chandra, to probe the case.
Mudgal Committe Findings
Mudgal Committee found serious wrongdoings in the process of awarding the tender by the state government. It expressed shock on how the original company had mysteriously changed into a new one and also how various layers of departmental checks had miserably failed to check these serious anomalies. It, however, did not indict any officials.