Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has directed the state chief secretary to lodge an FIR against Jal Board officials and others for an alleged embezzlement of Rs 20 crore.
“It is a unique case of corruption where embezzlement of funds was detected in 2019. Rather than recovering the money and punishing the guilty, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) extended the contract of the embezzlers by a year and also raised the service fee paid to them, apart from relaxing terms of contract,” a source from the L-G’s office said.
The official alleged that in this case of corruption which amounted to huge financial losses to the DJB, cash worth more than a whopping Rs 20 crore was collected as water bills from individuals, which went to a private bank account rather than the Board’s bank account for several years.
“The DJB appointed its banker, Corporation Bank, to collect the water bills on its behalf through an order in June 2012 for three years and the same was renewed further in 2016, 2017 and even in 2019, after the fraud was detected. The bank, in turn, in total violation of the terms of contract and in the knowledge DJB officials, engaged a private agency M/s Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. for collection of cash and cheques and for deposition of the same in DJB’s bank account,” the official claimed.
“It was noticed while extending the contract of the bank beyond October 10, 2019, when Arvind Kejriwal was the Chairman of DJB, that grave irregularities had occurred regarding delayed/non-deposition of cash by the bank during the period of contract from July 11, 2012 to October 10, 2019. It was observed that an amount of Rs 20 crore (including interest, penalty, etc), though deposited by the consumers, had not been transferred into the DJB’s Bank Account.
“Despite knowing all this, the Board headed by Kejriwal further extended the contract of Corporation Bank and in turn that of M/s Freshpay IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., that was working as the bank’s collection agent, till 2020.”
As per the official, even making the erring vendors pay the swindled Rs 20 crore and punishing them, the DJB not only extended their contract, but increased their service fee from Rs 5 to Rs 6 per bill.
“Also in baffling contrivance, DJB criminally relaxed the T+1 (Transaction +1) norm that made it mandatory for the vendor to deposit the cash collected from the people in the DJB bank account within 24 hrs of collection”, he alleged.
Subsequently, it was found that bills collected from the people of Delhi in cash were deposited in the Federal Bank and from there it was transferred to the private account of one M/s Aurrum E-Payments Pvt. Ltd., rather than getting deposited into the DJB’s Bank Account, he claimed.
The L-G has taken a serious note of the fact that despite the fraud coming to light, the DJB not only did not make any effort to recover the cash and punish the guilty, but convolutedly extended the contract of the embezzlers by another year, thereby establishing prima facie connivance, said the official.
Accordingly, the L-G has issued an order to register an FIR in the matter against the concerned DJB officials, bank authorities and the private entities involved, and the amount be recovered at the earliest.
He has also directed to identify the DJB officials involved in the above siphoning of funds and responsibility be fixed and a report on the action taken thereof be submitted within 15 days.