July 17, 2024

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V K Saxena has leveled accusations of corruption at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. Saxena alleges that there has been financial mismanagement in the construction of a new block at the state-run Lok Nayak Hospital, leading to a cost overrun of Rs 670 crore ($90 million). He has called for an investigation by the Vigilance Department over these claims.

The L-G has also suggested that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) should assemble a dedicated team of Chief Technical Examiners to carry out a comprehensive probe into the matter. Saxena is also establishing a committee with the objective of identifying the procedural violations that potentially caused the price increase; this committee will also evaluate other ongoing projects in different governmental hospitals in Delhi.

Saxena asserts that the Delhi government’s Health Department under minister Saurabh Bharadwaj and the Public Works Department led by Atishi are to blame for the price hike. He claims that there is apparent complicity between the two leaders.

Bharadwaj, in response to the allegations, said during a press conference, “The L-G’s focus is only on ordering inquiries. Has he done anything else for Delhi? Vigilance falls under him. He’s just looking for media attention.”

The L-G has highlighted procedural violations in the process of issuing a tender valued at Rs 465 crore ($62 million), meant for the construction of the extra block at Lok Nayak Hospital. The budget for this project later inflated to Rs 1,135 crore ($152 million).

The L-G’s office claims that the planned commencement date for the construction of the additional block was on November 4, 2020, with a projected completion duration of 30 months. They state that despite over three years since the start date, only 64% of the work has been done, which corresponds to a 243% increase in costs. This, they argue, has created an unauthorized liability of roughly Rs 670 crore for the Delhi government.

In response to these accusations, a Delhi government source dismisses the claims, saying that the L-G is admitting that the cost overrun occurred at the officer level, unbeknownst to the government. They argue that these officers are under the direct purview of the L-G. They express support for any inquiry, and demand rigorous punitive action if any illegality is discovered. According to them, the L-G and his department should have been more proactive in dealing with this issue rather than reacting only after media reports.

The original post first appeared on The Indian Express Pvt Ltd on July 3, 2024, at 06:18 IST.

Frequently Asked Questions

What corruption allegations have been levelled at the AAP government?

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, V K Saxena, has accused the AAP government of financial corruption in the construction of a new block at the Lok Nayak Hospital. According to Saxena, the construction cost exceeded the original amount by Rs 670 crore ($90 million). He has called for an investigation into the issue by the Vigilance Department.

What action has the L-G proposed following his allegations?

The L-G has called for an in-depth investigation into the matter by the Vigilance Department. He has also asked for the Central Vigilance Commission to form a specialized team of Chief Technical Examiners to conduct a thorough enquiry. Saxena has constituted a committee to investigate the procedural violations that led to the cost overrun, which will also examine any similar ongoing projects in government hospitals in Delhi.

What has been the response from the Delhi government to these allegations?

The Delhi government has dismissed the allegations, stating that any cost escalation occurred at the officer level, under the direct supervision of the L-G, without the consent or knowledge of the government. They have welcomed any inquiry and demanded rigorous punitive action if any illegality is found. They have criticized the L-G and his department for not being proactive and only reacting after media reports of the issue came out.