New Delhi: The ruling BJP faced some embarrassment in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday when a party member demanded an independent probe into alleged corruption in the central PWD works undertaken at MPs residences and claimed there was a contractors-bureaucrats "nexus", a charge refuted by Union Minister Hardeep Puri.
Rakesh Sinha, who is a nominated member of the Upper House, during the Question Hour raised the issue of alleged corruption in works carried out by the central public works department (CPWD) in houses allocated to members of Parliament.
"It is my demand to hold a probe to ascertain the quality of work done through random sampling. There is a lot of corruption and many MPs have personally experienced that corruption.
"My demand is that the collusion between contractors and bureaucrats should be probed through an independent agency so as to break this nexus. If there is corruption even in the work at lawmakers' residences, how can we probe others for corruption," Sinha said.
However, Puri, who is Housing and Urban Development Minister, stressed there is no such nexus between contractors and department officials.
"I can say this with full confidence in this House that there may be individual cases of dereliction of duty and there may be individual cases where a particular contractor has been able to reach out to somebody of the CPWD," the minister told the House.
"But there is no nexus between the department and the contractors that I can say with full confidence," he said.
The minister said in the last five years 435 cases were investigated and officers were punished.
"As the Minister concerned, I can say on record, there is no nexus, and nexus implies as if there is collusive system where one party and the other party do it. Also, the complaints from Members of Parliament are addressed expeditiously not only through the e-portal.
"I deal with complaints or rather responses from senior Cabinet Ministers, from other political dignitaries, from people who are higher members of the Judiciary. So, this is not correct that there is a nexus," the minister said.
The BJP member, however, expressed his dissatisfaction with the minister's clarification and reiterated his demand for an independent probe.
When Sinha was making the demand, Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah was also sitting in the House. Some Congress and other opposition members chuckled when the charges were being made by the ruling BJP member, who said that such micro-level things also need to be taken care of as the Narendra Modi government adopts 'zero tolerance' towards corruption.
Some opposition members even tried to speak on the matter but were not allowed by the Chair.
Puri replied to Sinha saying the ministry has four-level quality checks already in operation.
He said the first quality check is at the level of the Executive Engineer at the site, then at the circle level, followed by the one at the Headquarters level.
"And when the work is for over Rs 20 crore, we have another check and then there is e-portal; and the DG, CPWD, under supervision by the Ministry, examines these.
"Well, if the member has come to a conclusion that there is corruption, I think we can have a separate chat. But as the minister concerned, I want to say on record, there is no nexus. Yes, there have been cases; 235 people we have proceeded against in this thing," Puri told the member.
"The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has a well established Quality Assurance System to undertake quality check. No nexus between officers of Department and contractors has come to the notice," the minister said in his written reply....