A high-level committee constituted by Punjab Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh to examine various aspects of the Ludhiana City Centre scam has submitted in its report that Delhi-based firm M/s Today Homes and Infrastructure Private Limited benefitted by Rs 1,144 crore just by changing the drawing plan of the project. This is besides the other monetary gains running into hundreds of crores that would have gone to the firm had the project been fully implemented, government sources said.
According to the Vigilance Bureau probe, Today Homes changed the original drawing prepared by Arkitectural Grids, part of the request for proposal document, and used a drawing prepared secretly by another Delhi firm, HOK, after it was “illegally” awarded the bid in May 2005. Comparing the two drawings, the VB found several instances of violation of government norms and bidding conditions. For instance, Today Homes had got the proposed city centre covered area increased by 8,56,629 square feet and the proposed covered parking area by 5,82,141 sq ft over and above the area proposed in the RFP document.
Incidentally, after HT had highlighted the scam, then chief minister Amarinder Singh had written to the Congress chief on September 20, 2006, telling her the Ludhiana Improvement Trust had awarded the project to Today Homes after “due diligence”.
The expert committee, set up on August 10 this year, submitted its report to the chief secretary two weeks ago. It said no construction could be done without the competent authority approving the drawing and Today Homes must have got the go-ahead before carrying out construction using the changed drawing. Also, in January 2006, the Punjab Pollution Control Board granted the firm a provisional no-objection certificate to develop the project. The NOC was valid till September 24, 2006. However, Today Homes did not apply for an extension even after the NOC’s validity expired. Moreover, the project developer started construction at the site without getting the mandatory clearance from the Environment and Forests Ministry.
The committee also said no major changes can be made in RFP documents approved by the government. Hence, the deletion of original drawing components was illegal.