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‘Costly Classrooms’ politics in Delhi and confession of contractor

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New Delhi, July 04: Politics of costly classrooms has intensified in Delhi after Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Manoj Tiwari levelled fresh allegations against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also education minister.

Tiwari on Wednesday alleged that Rs 100 crore was added in the budget for construction of nursery classrooms in Delhi on 'verbal orders'.

‘Costly Classrooms’ politics in Delhi and confession of contractor

Citing purported minutes of Delhi government's Finance Committee meeting in March 2018, Tiwari claimed that an estimate of Rs 221.44 crore to construct nursery classrooms was revised to Rs 326.36 crore merely on 'verbal orders'.

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The government constructed 366 nursery classrooms at an estimated cost of Rs 28.70 lakh each, said Tiwari.

Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana said "verbal authorisation" for an amount of Rs 100 crore is not permitted as per Central Public Works Department (CPWD) manual.

After the fresh allegation, Sisodia served defamation notices Tiwari, Leader of Opposition Vijendra Gupta and Member of Parliament Parvesh Verma.

On Monday, Tiwari had alleged a "scam" of Rs 2,000 crore in construction of classrooms at Delhi government schools, and demanded the resignation of Sisodia.

Tiwari's allegation was based on a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana.

Tiwari claimed that Delhi government with expenditure of Rs. 2,892 has undertaken construction of 12,782 classrooms which could have been done with a maximum spending of around Rs. 800 crore.

This is a scam of Rs 2000 crore. Therefore, Sisodia should resign, Tiwari said.

Sisodia denied allegations and dared BJP to arrest him. He explained that that Rs 2,892 crore spent included the cost of constructing of state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, laboratories, staircases, music rooms, libraries, corridors, playgrounds, swimming pools, toilets, water and electricity supply systems, wastewater treatment systems among others.

Sisodia also launched counter-attack and said the BJP-ruled South MCD recently came up with a proposal to construct 43 rooms in a school at a cost of Rs 10.73 crore, which meant Rs 24.95 lakh were earmarked as expenditure for each classroom.

Delhi BJP has announced it would take the costly classroom matter to Lokayukta.

Meanwhile, a Civil Contractor, who takes contracts from CPWD, PWD, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), tells OneIndia that both BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are maligning each other to project themselves as honest because Assembly elections are approaching.

"Neither BJP-ruled MCD nor AAP led Delhi government is honest. I earmark 11% of the contract amount and pay as cut money to officials, who further distribute commission to their bureaucratic and political bosses. Every contractor does it to remain in business. Normal people can't imagine how much black money these government officials and politicians have amassed," he says.

He also disclosed interesting information that 1% out of 11% is being earmarked to grease the palms of so-called RTI activists.

Sisodia calls for 'surgical strike' on unemployment, hunger, illiteracy

"The RTI Act has become a tool of extortion for some people who know the rules and regulations. It's not like that officials tell us to pay bribe to everyone who files RTI application. First, officials give incomplete information to gauge the knowledge of the RTI applicant. If the applicant is not satisfied and again asks specific questions about shortcomings in a contract then officials realise that the applicant has done his/her homework. Then they tell contractor to 'manage' the RTI applicant," says the contractor.

He laments that during his youth he was a principled man but the responsibilities of the family forced him to become a part of 'corrupt government system'.

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