The seven-member panel formed by the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) to probe into an alleged scam in the laying of a water pipeline that caused a Rs 2-crore loss to the Military Engineering Services (MES) has lost it way.
After excluding from the committee BJP councillor Saurabh Joshi, who first raised the issue in the House, it has asked him to appear before it on May 22 with relevant documents.
The letter asking Joshi to appear before the committee was written by superintending engineer of the public health department RC Diwan, who is also the convener of the committee. However, Diwan has no authority to summon anyone before the panel; it is only the mayor or the chairman of the committee who can do so.
“I fail to understand why the committee has asked me to appear before it as if I am an accused,” Joshi said. “I raised the issue in the House on the basis of documents provided by the public health department and a report published in Hindustan Times. When everything is on record, why is the committee not asking for it from the department? This raises serious questions about the intentions of the committee.”
“I do not know under what rules and regulations I have been asked to appear before the committee,” the BJP councillor said. “The convener of the committee has not made it clear in what capacity he wants my appearance – as a witness or as a complainant.”
Malkiat Singh, a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) councillor and member of the panel, said: “It is the duty of the committee to investigate the matter and present its findings on this issue. If the committee fails to unearth any irregularities in allotment of the work and wants Saurabh’s assistance, then it shall ask the mayor for it.”
Another member of the panel, on condition of anonymity, said: “The issue is a very serious one and cannot be taken lightly to give benefit to the persons involved as this may lower the dignity of the House. The committee should investigate the matter in its own way in the light of the documents available with the public health department.”
Following a debate in the House on April 30, a committee was formed by mayor Raj Bala Malik to look into financial irregularities by the public health department to favour Vadodara-based Spun Pipe Construction Company while allotting the project to lay a pipeline from the Kajauli water works to the Chandimandir military station.
Joshi had started the two-hour debate on April 30 after taking note of a report in HT on April 23.
Documents from the public health department revealed that the cost of the project had been inflated in the tender, so that MES had to pay more than the actual cost.
The panel has as its members Congress councillor Subhash Chawla as chairman, partyman Mukesh Bassi, Singh, BJP’s Rajesh Kumar Gupta and nominated councillors Aruna Goel and Babu Lal.