B'luru IPS officers clash over Rs 619cr Nirbhaya scheme

Senior IPS officers don't see eye-to-eye on Rs 619 crore Nirbhaya scheme implementation in Bengaluru

The scheme aims at providing safer urban infrastructure and efficient access to law enforcement agencies

Representative image: iStock Photo

 A tug of war has erupted between two senior IPS officers over the Rs 619 crore Bengaluru Safe City project under the Nirbhaya scheme, a day after the Karnataka government ordered Bengaluru police Commissioner Kamal Pant to probe into the 'illegal interference' in the process.

Hemant Nimbalkar, who is the Bengaluru Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration), had alleged that someone had impersonated the Home Secretary and tried to gain access to the classified information, which according to him amounted to 'illegal interference.'

In response, Home Secretary D Roopa, who is an Inspector General of Police rank IPS officer, said she found serious irregularities in the tender documents. Roopa insisted that her actions were aimed at safeguarding public interest and public money in bonafide discharge of her duties as a public servant.

"I, myself being Home Secretary, the complaint alleging impersonation is false and motivated," she stated. The officer said the complaint against her actions appears to have been made at the behest of those benefiting from the biased and unfair tender.

Calling it a 'whistle-blowing' act in respect of the Nirbhaya safe city project, Roopa said Bharat Electronics Ltd had complained to the Prime Minister's Office that the tender favoured a particular vendor.

"I blew the whistle bringing this to the notice of the Chief Secretary. This led to the Chief Secretary calling me for the next Safe City Project meeting," Roopa said.

She also alleged that the tender document was biased and it was proved by the fact that it has been cancelled.

Roopa said she in her capacity as Home Secretary had spoken to Ernst & Young (E&Y) to get more facts to know why such biased tender was drafted by them. Nimbalkar had written to Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, requesting him to initiate an inquiry into the matter.

In his December 7 letter, Nimbalkar said the Request For Proposal (RFP) for selection of service provider for design, implementation and maintenance of Bengaluru Safe City project was under process. He added that on December 2, he had a meeting with Akshay Singhal, the management consultant for the project.

Singhal sought to know about the email communication he had with Bengaluru police Commissioner on November 9 and asked the developments related to it.

"The email communication attached herewith is self explanatory and amounts to clear impersonation as Home Secretary to the Government of Karnataka for getting access to classified information with respect to the RFP in preparation for Safe City project worth Rs 619 crore approx before publication of tender for wrongful gains without any lawful authority and locus standi," Nimbalkar said in his letter.

He submitted that it also amounted to illegal interference in the tender process initiated by the Karnataka government by an unauthorised person.

It may be recalled that the CBI had chargesheeted Nimbalkar along with another IPS officer in the multi-crore IMA Ponzi scheme fraud for allegedly covering it up and shielding the scheme operators.

The Home Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is implementing the project under the Nirbhaya scheme to prevent and curb crimes against women and girls in public places. The scheme aims at providing safer urban infrastructure and efficient access to law enforcement agencies.