The Central Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry into the purchase of 1,000 AC buses will not derail the Delhi government’s plans to add more buses to the city’s fleet, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said on Monday.
“The CBI can continue its investigation and the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) along with the government will offer full cooperation,” Gahlot said. “But this probe will not derail the Delhi government’s plan to procure buses to increase its fleet to 11,000.”
The Delhi government is preparing to introduce 100 new electric buses in the national capital on August 24, Gahlot said.
The federal agency on Sunday said it registered a preliminary enquiry last year into alleged irregularities in purchase of 1,000 AC buses by the Delhi government in 2020. The preliminary enquiry, a precursor to a first information report, was registered by the anti-corruption branch, Delhi unit, after the home ministry in August last year referred the matter to the CBI.
The state-run buses in Delhi carry 4.2 million passengers every day. DTC alone ferries 3.3 million passengers daily on an average, which is almost a million more than Delhi Metro and the highest by any city-based state transport utility in the country.
The CBI case pertains to a tender floated by the DTC in 2020 to procure and maintain 1,000 AC buses. the tender was withdrawn after allegations of irregularities in the annual maintenance contract of these buses. Several DTC officials have been questioned in the case, government officials on Monday said, seeking anonymity.
Like the excise policy that regulates the sale of liquor in the capital, this issue was also first raised by Delhi lieutenant governor, based on a complaint received from Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Vijender Gupta.
Prior to the CBI taking over the case pertaining to buses, a probe committee appointed by the then lieutenant governor Anil Baijal had given a clean chit to the DTC over the tendering and procurement of the buses. The three-member panel had recommended floating fresh tenders for annual maintenance contracts over what it described as “procedural lapses” arising out of a “bona fide decision-making process”.
The Delhi government decided not to float a fresh tender as it decided in July 2021 to induct only electric buses to the largest possible extent.
“Today (Monday), it has been decided that the government under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal will introduce 100 more electric buses on Wednesday (August 24),” Gahlot said. “We have a strong commitment to provide seamless, affordable, and readily available public transport to the people of Delhi. All our bus procurement plans will continue as usual.”
The 100 electric buses are a part of a consignment of 300 procured by the DTC. Of these 300, 150 are already running on city roads, 100 will be rolled out on Wednesday and the remaining 50 in September.
Delhi’s current bus fleet is at least 7,200 strong, of which 150 are electric and the rest run on compressed natural gas. The government not only plans to increase Delhi’s bus fleet to 11,000, but will also make 70-75% of its entire bus fleet electric by 2025-26 financial year, transport commissioner Ashish Kundra said.
“Apart from these 300 e-buses, another package of 1,500 e-buses in the DTC will start arriving by the end of this year, and the entire lot will be delivered by 2023 end,” Kundra said. “So, with this, Delhi will have about 9,100 buses by the end of 2023.”
To support its targets of inducting electric buses, the DTC has decided to upgrade all of its 13 bus depots with electric charging infrastructure as well.