The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing alleged irregularities in the Connaught Place (CP) multi-crore restoration project, feels the New Delhi Municipal Council's (NDMC) decision to delegate its design, execution and monitoring to its engineering consultant was unwarranted.
The consultant, a public sector undertaking, was appointed as project management consultant in November 2005. Desperate to complete the project, the consultant hired several sub-contractors.
In April 2004, the NDMC chairman had directed it to initiate action to restore CP before the Commonwealth Games in October 2010. "NDMC gave the CP restoration project to the consulting agency, which was unwarranted according to our probe findings," said a CBI source.
The source added, "The NDMC had all the capabilities and requisite experience to design, execute, and monitor the CP project but it chose to delegate these functions to the consultant." The source said, "The consultant was not known to have executed such a project on its own before. It ultimately hired several sub-contractors, which the NDMC could have done too."
The project was divided into 11 packages. The CBI is verifying if the move was part of any criminal conspiracy, the source said.
CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said, "The CBI has lodged a preliminary enquiry to probe alleged irregularities in the restoration project. The probe is still on."
NDMC's director (public relations) Amit Prasad told HT, "Considering the size and complexity of the project, the NDMC felt that a turnkey consultant was required. The NDMC is a small urban local body with limited manpower."
'Poor contract management'
Plagued by delays and poor management, the detailed project report — whose estimated cost ballooned from R76 crore in 2005 to R671 crore in 2007 — got clearance only in November 2008.
"Initially, the project was to restore CP and entailed works worth R 8crore. Later, it became a part of the JNNURM in November 2005 because of which the estimated cost ballooned," said the source.
'Award of exorbitant contracts'
The CBI probe indicated that over half of the 11 sub-contracts were awarded at allegedly exorbitant rates, said the source. These contracts were given on the grounds "of urgency," said the official.