On Wednesday, the Congress accused the government of intimidating officers of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). These officers had exposed “corruption” in various schemes; the Congress demanded that their transfer orders be revoked.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, citing a media report on the transfer of the officers, charged that it is the modus operandi of the Modi government to threaten and remove anyone who “exposes” them.
In a post on ‘X’, Jairam Ramesh said, “We demand that these transfer orders should be cancelled immediately, the officers return to the CAG and action must be taken on these mega scams relating to Dwarka Expressway, Bharatmala and Ayushman Bharat.”
Congress leader Ramesh further charged that “the Modi government operates mafia style under a cloak of silence and intimidation. If anyone exposes its modus operandi of corruption, they are threatened or removed.”
Ramesh alleged that the latest victims are three officers of the CAG, who exposed “massive scams” in government schemes in a report tabled during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
He claimed that the CAG report showed scams across social schemes and infrastructure. It documented 1400 per cent cost inflation and tendering irregularities in the Dwarka Expressway. This was in addition to a diversion of Rs 3,600 crore from faulty bidding practices, highway projects and 60 per cent cost inflation of the Bharatmala Scheme, according to Ramesh.
The Congress leader further claimed, “Not only that, an audit of the Ayushman Bharat scheme showed lakhs of claims made to dead patients and at least 7.5 lakh beneficiaries linked to a single mobile number.”
Ramesh further alleged that the three CAG officers in charge of reporting on the Dwarka Expressway and Ayushman Bharat scams have been transferred “to hide the blatant corruption in the Modi government, despite the fact that the CAG is supposed to be an independent body.”
The Northern Peripheral Road or NH 248-BB, commonly known as the Dwarka Expressway is a 27.6 km (17.1 mi) long, under construction, 8-lane (elevated) and 8-lane (service road), total 16-lane elevated grade separated expressway connecting Dwarka in Delhi to Kherki Daula Toll Plaza, Gurgaon in Haryana. The expressway will take off from km 20 of NH 48 (old NH 8) at Shiv Murti in Mahipalpur in Delhi and terminate at km 40 of NH 48 near Kherki Daula Toll Plaza in Gurgaon in Haryana. The NPR has been planned as an alternate road link between Delhi and Gurgaon, and is expected to ease the traffic situation on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. The expressway was initially planned to be 18 km (11 mi) long and was expected to open by 2012 but land acquisition issues delayed the project.
The entire project, costing ₹7,500 crore was planned in 2006, and the contract was awarded in 2011. Of the original 18 km project, 14 km were completed by 2016. Several more kilometre project routes was added to the scope of the project as an extension. Various parts of the project remained delayed due to land acquisition and tree transplantation hurdles, resulting in an intervention from the Prime Minister’s office in November 2018 to resolve the pending issues. Subsequently, the land for the 10 km section handed by Haryana and Delhi, AAI and HSVP were in the process of expediting the resolution in December 2018.
One of the causes of delay was NHAI’s requirement for the land from DDA to transplant 13,000 trees from the route alignment, which in November 2018 Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal agreed to provide after several years of inexplicable delays.
In December, Haryana too handed over the land for 10 km route to NHAI and was in process of handing over the remaining land for the 4 km route by 31 December 2018. Earlier in January 2018, AAI too had agreed to sell their land to NHAI for the route falling on their land.