Major scam detected in Centre’s ambitious power schemes in J&K

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 16: The Power Ministry of Jammu and Kashmir Government has detected a major scam that might run into several crores, in allotment of contract for works under two prestigious schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in six districts of Kashmir valley including Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Budgam and Anantnag.
Acting swiftly after getting reports or irregularities in allotment of works, the Power Ministry immediately ordered an inquiry into them and suspended execution of projects under Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP-Rural) and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY). The inquiry report too has confirmed irregularities in allotment of works , directed scrapping of the tenders followed by issuance of new  NITs and action against officers and officials, responsible for the irregularities.
In the process, execution of works has been delayed to such an extent that ambitious plan of Narendra Modi– ‘Power for All’ by November 2018-could well be missed in Jammu and Kashmir, which could be a major setback as the Prime Minister has publically declared that the Centre would electrify all villages by November 2018.
A copy of the Enquiry report into the ‘Bid Evaluation of DDUGJY and PMDP (Rural) for six districts of Kashmir, which is in possession of the Excelsior, has established serious irregularities in allotment of works for total negotiated cost of Rs 598 crores and recommended that the contract should be immediately scrapped. It has called for issuance of fresh tenders strictly in terms of the guidelines issued in this behalf by the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
The enquiry was conducted by Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Power Development Department (PDD), Dheeraj Gupta on the directions of Deputy Chief Minister, Incharge PDD, Dr Nirmal Singh.
According to sources, a “serious and deliberate attempt” had been made to favour a particular businessman and his firm by the Contract Committee by raising the final offer from 36 per cent to 46 per cent above the estimated cost after negotiations.
The contracts had been decided by the Contract Committee-1, which was headed by the Development Commissioner (Power) and comprised all Chief Engineers of the Department. The Chief Engineer, Projects Wing, had handled the bidding process for six contracts, which were under scrutiny.
The serious irregularities were detected by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, who immediately suspended the operation of contract and directed Commissioner/ Secretary, Power, Dheeraj Gupta, who established irregularities during inquiry and has submitted his report to Dr Singh. Minister of State for Power had also raised serious questions on integrity of the bidding process and qualifications of the bidders in the contracts finalized by the Contract Committee.
In his recommendations, Gupta said the present bidding process for the DDUGJY and PMDP (Rural) works for six districts in Kashmir division (Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Budgam and Anantnag) should be scrapped ab initio and fresh tenders be issued, strictly in terms of the guidelines issued in this behalf by the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
“A view needs to be taken as to whether these works need to be got re-tendered through the Project Wing of the Department again or through M/s Power Grid Corporation India Limited (PGCIL), a Central Power Sector Undertaking (CPSU) of Ministry of Power, Government of India, which is implementing these projects in eight other districts,” the Inquiry Panel said.
It added that the Project Wing has taken more than 12 months to finalize the process without any success and more than four months to evaluate the bids after opening. The implementation of DDUGJY and PMDP (Rural) in the State has already been delayed, it pointed out.
The Inquiry report said: “instructions may be issued that every proposal/agenda for allotment of contracts to be considered by the Contract Committees shall be first vetted by the PMA, wherever they are appointed and independent comments/observations of the PMA are invariably made a part of the proposal/agenda before the Contract Committees consider them.
“A high-level enquiry should be conducted through the General Administration Department (GAD) into entire gamut of issues and to fix responsibility of omission and commission by different officers/officials,” Gupta recommended.
He said given the role of the present Chief Engineer, Projects Wing Kashmir in this matter, where he tried to push, by projecting selective and wrong facts, the allotment of these contracts in spite  of the obvious irregularities both with the process as well as the decision, he is required to be shifted immediately from his present place in the overall interest of transparency, accountability and delivery.
It was also revealed in the inquiry report that M/s RECPDCL, the designated Project Management Agency (PMA), had concluded that both the bidders M/s ECI Engineering and Construction Company Limited, Hyderabad and M/s BS Limited, Hyderabad, selected by the Contract Committee for awards of the contracts for DDUGJY in six districts didn’t fulfill minimum eligibility criteria to be declared techno commercially qualified for the buds.
“Therefore, the question of awarding the contracts to these parties didn’t arise at all. Besides, the PMA also pointed out other bid conditions/issues which had fatally impacted integrity of the bidding process. They also pointed out that the Government has exempted all taxes and duties on these works. Therefore, the inclusion of entry tax, octroi etc in the prices recommended for award of these contract may lead to extra benefits to the awardees, unless deducted. Against this backdrop, the PMA recommended that these works needed to be re-tendered,” the Inquiry report pointed out.
Sources said since the Power Development Department has to start afresh the process of inviting tenders for two prestigious schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi including DDUGJY and PMDP (R), there is every possibility that Jammu and Kashmir could miss the deadline of November 2018 in, ‘Power for All’.


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