Karnataka IPS officer alleges irregularities in tender drafting
Controversy over D. Roopa seeking classified information on Safe City project
Responding to the controversy that has exploded over an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer allegedly trying to seek classified information without authorisation, D. Roopa, Principal Secretary-Prisons, Civil Defence and Auxiliary Services (PCAS), Home Department, in a letter to the Chief Secretary on Saturday, has accepted that she did make a call to the Project Management Consultant (PMC) for the Safe City Project tender.
The State government instituted a probe into the matter on Friday.
However, describing herself as a “whistleblower”, Ms. Roopa claimed that she was trying to find out “serious irregularities in tender drafting”. Hemant Nimbalkar, Additional Commissioner, Administration, Bengaluru City Police, and Member Secretary of the State Level Apex Committee overseeing the ₹619 crore tender, had lodged a complaint with the Chief Secretary that the officer, who is not a member of the Apex Committee, impersonated the Home Secretary, called up the PMC and tried to procure a copy of the classified Request for Proposal (RFP) before it was published, “which amounted a criminal act”. The State government has instituted an inquiry by Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.
Accused of “unauthorised intervention in the tender process”, Ms. Roopa has now claimed in the letter to the Chief Secretary, “The file was given to me by the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, himself to study. While studying I found serious irregularities in the tender drafting. In this context, I spoke to Earnst & Young in my capacity as Home Secretary to ascertain more facts on the matter.”
Rajneesh Goel, ACS, Home Department, also a member of the Apex Committee, was not available for comment.
She has also denied the charge of impersonation and said she was indeed the Home Secretary. While she is Principal Secretary-PCAS, Home Department, the post is commonly referred to as that of “Home Secretary”.
Ms. Roopa has alleged that an earlier tender for the project that was cancelled was “biased and was drafted to favour a particular vendor”.
However, sources in the State government said that the earlier tender was cancelled in January 2020 over Chinese-made components being part of the supply chain by bidders and the State government took a stand to boycott all Chinese made products, in light of the Galwan valley clash, and not over the draft of the tender. However, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) had written to the Prime Minister’s Office that the firm was “wrongly disqualified by the tender scrutiny committee.”
Calling the complaint by Mr. Nimbalkar “motivated”, Ms. Roopa said it was only after she brought to the notice of chief secretary that Sanction of Prosecution of Mr. Nimbalkar in the IMA scam was granted in September 2020. She has demanded that Mr. Nimbalkar be removed as the chairman of the tender inviting committee of the Safe City Project tender and there was a need for the government to protect “whistleblower D. Roopa”.
Ms. Roopa’s letter went viral on social media on Saturday. Mr. Nimbalkar shot back saying, “Governance is a serious business and cannot be run on social media.”
“I will issue a point by point rebuttal after the letter is authenticated by authorities,” he said in a statement announcing he will address a press conference on Sunday, in his capacity as chairman, tender inviting committee, safe city project. However, Ms. Roopa confirmed the authenticity of the letter to The Hindu.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nimbalkar said: “Anyone approaching the PMC without authorisation amounts to illegal interference in the tender process and is a criminal act. The facts of the case will come out during the inquiry instituted by the government and the concerned has a lot to answer” and alleged the contents of the purported letter had “an ulterior motive.”