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CAG to conduct audit on CM Kejriwal’s residence renovation

New Delhi | The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India will conduct a special audit into alleged “irregularities and violations” in the “reconstruction” of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence, Raj Niwas officials said on Tuesday.

The Union home ministry has recommended the special CAG audit taking note of a May 24 letter by Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena which pointed out the “reconstruction” “gross and prima facie financial irregularities” in the “reconstruction” of the chief minister’s official residence, they claimed.

No immediate reaction was available from the CM’s office or the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, which has locked horns with the BJP over the issue since it first came to light in April.
While the AAP claimed it was a dilapidated structure built in 1942 and needed repairs, the BJP has alleged irregularities and pressed for a probe.

In his May 24 letter to the MHA, Saxena said the “alleged irregularities” were highlighted by the media after which Delhi’s chief secretary submitted a factual report on April 27 and then again on May 12.

The reports detailed “deviations, violations from rules, regulations and guidelines” by the Public Works Department and the Delhi government “in the name of renovation of the Chief Minister’s residence”, he said.

According to the reports of the chief secretary, a full-fledged construction/re-construction of a new building was effected by the PWD in the name of renovation, the LG’s letter said.

The report also flagged that the ownership of the property was not ascertained by the Public Works Department before commencing the construction, it said.

The mandatory and pre-required sanction of the Building Plans in terms of applicable building bylaws were not obtained from the Building Committee of the PWD till now, according to the letter, bases on the reports.

“Initially the proposal was to provide additional accommodation in the residence of the Chief Minister, however later on the proposal was approved by the Minister for an entirely new construction after demolition of the existing building,” it said.

The initial cost for construction work was Rs 15 to Rs 20 crore, the report said, adding that it was inflated from time-to-time, it said.

As per the report, a total expenditure of Rs 52,71,24,570(approximately Rs 53 crores) has been spent till date which is more than three times the initial estimate, the letter said.

“Further, record show, that to avoid approvals from Principal Secretary (PWD) who has been delegated powers for giving financial sanction above Rs 10 crore, split sanctions of amount less than Rs 10 crore on every occasion were obtained convolutedly,” the report said, according to the letter.

The report had also flagged the “gross violation of the MPD-2021” or Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) which is the law of the land in matters of land and spatial development/redevelopment, it said.

“To avoid obtaining approval of Competent Authority for felling/transplantation of trees of more than 10 numbers, as per Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, split approvals were taken five times for felling/transplantation of 9,2,6,6 and 5 i.e total 28 trees. This issue regarding violation of Environmental Laws is also pending before NGT,” it said.

 

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