According to CBI officials, the central agency is also investigating into the agreement between the Delhi government and DTC for the purchase and upkeep of low-floor buses. CBI is investigating alleged irregularities in the rollout of the Delhi excise policy.
The PE, according to sources, was set up in response to a 2021 letter from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) urging a CBI investigation into a Delhi Transport Corporation deal involving the purchase and Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) of 1,000 low-floor air-conditioned buses, in which a committee appointed by the then Lt Governor Anil Baijal had identified various lapses.
The 12-year AMC cost Rs 3,412 crore, whilst the acquisition deal cost Rs 850 crore. JBM Auto and Tata Motors received a 70:30 split of the purchasing contract, while JBM Auto also won the AMC tenders after placing as the L1 bidder.
Two separate tenders that the DTC floated last year for the purchase of 1,000 low-floor AC buses and their AMC are at the centre of the conflict. The DTC decided to divide the process because it assumed that a combined tender for both purposes might not have drawn in bidders.
After the three-member committee observed that the qualifying requirements stated in the AMC solicitation “defeated the purpose of splitting the bids,” the situation, however, was shrouded in suspicion. The committee was established on June 16 and included former IAS OP Agarwal, principal secretary (transport) Ashish Kundra, principal secretary (vigilance) K R Meena, and principal secretary (transport).
The committee observed that the AMC promotes “cartelization” and “monopoly pricing” in its 11-page report. It also included a description of how the buy and AMC tendering were done in sequence, claiming that this made both bidders aware that they were the only ones in the game.
In its report, the committee emphasized that it “focused its attention only on the AMC of the buses procurement process.” Vijender Gupta, the leader of the opposition in the Delhi Assembly, had also urged for a CBI investigation.
However, the Delhi government refuted every accusation. “There is absolutely no truth to these allegations. A committee was already set up to investigate the matter thoroughly, which gave a clean chit,” it said in a statement.