Deal off, but Haryana ready to buy buses

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Photo for representation only.

Chandigarh, July 28: Haryana’s submission before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it was ready to purchase buses from bidders of Transport Department’s kilometre scheme even after agreements had been scrapped following detection of irregularities in the tendering process, has raised many an eyebrow.

The state government, acting on a Vigilance report, has already initiated action against six officials, including an HCS officer, for their alleged role in the scam.

Senior officers point out that the State Vigilance Bureau (SVB) has recommended a criminal case against five bidders for fraudulently getting tenders for buses released in their favour in connivance with department officials. The SVB team, headed by Additional DGP RC Mishra, had called the tendering process for 510 buses a “colourable exercise”.

The buses were to be hired at  Rs 31.01 per km – Rs 37.30 per km while an additional cost of Rs 16.36 per km was to be borne by the department. However, in its affidavit to the High Court, in which the state government averred that the tendering process had been scrapped, the Haryana Advocate General also submitted that the government would purchase the buses from the bidders.

“At this stage, the learned Advocate General, Haryana, has submitted that the government was ready and willing to purchase the buses from the petitioners / bidders which are complete in all respect,” read the High Court order issued on July 24. The case is to come up for hearing on Monday.

“There is a set procedure the state government has to follow for such purchases. First, the department spells out the requirement. Then tenders are floated and the matter goes to the high power purchase committee (HPPC),” explained sources.

“When the government is proceeding against its officials and is initiating criminal action against bidders for collusive bidding, cheating and fraud, how can it purchase buses from them,” they maintain.