As the controversy surrounding multi-crore Bengaluru Smart City Project under the Nirbhaya Fund unravels, Karnataka IPS officers Hemant Nimbalkar and Home Secretary D Roopa lock horns.
The controversy came to light after a news report, which appeared on Friday, mentioned that an unnamed IPS officer had "impersonated" as the Home Secretary to get confidential information and interfered with the tendering process of the Bengaluru Safe City Project.
The content of the report was based on the complaint written by IPS officer Hemant Nimbalkar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration) to the Karnataka Chief Secretary on December 7.
In her explanation to the Chief Secretary, D Roopa, IPS stated that she had called the company to know the details about the project as she had found serious irregularities in tender document of the Bengaluru Safe City Project under the Nirbhaya scheme.
D Roopa has also written to the Karnataka Chief Secretary, seeking a probe against Nimbalkar over the tender document which has been dropped. She has now clarified that the complaint against her was false and motivated
The Nirbhaya Project tendering row: What we know so far
The row over the Bengaluru Smart City project emerged on Friday after it came to limelight that Bengaluru Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration) Hemant Nimbalkar filed a complaint with the Chief Secretary on December 7, alleging that a woman "impersonating as Home Secretary" was calling a company to know the 'classified' details about the tenders filed by it.
Immediately after this complaint, Chief Secretary, TM Vijaybhaskar ordered an inquiry headed by Bengaluru City police commissioner Kamal Pant to probe the alleged undue illegal interference in the tender process for the Bengaluru Safe City Project under the Nirbhaya scheme.
The government passed an order appointing the police commissioner as the Investigation Officer on December 24, which was released to the media on Friday.
Illegal interference in tender process initiated by Karnataka govt: IPS Officer Nimbalkar
In his December 7 letter to the Chief Secretary, Nimbalkar said that the Request For Proposal (RFP) for selection of service provider for design, implementation and maintenance of Bengaluru Safe City project was under process. Nimbalkar said 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 Kamal Pant on November 9 and asked about the developments related to it.
In his letter Nimbalkar said, "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 before the publication of tender for wrongful gains without any lawful authority and locus standi."
He submitted that it also amounted to illegal interference in the tender process initiated by the Karnataka government by an unauthorised person. The police officer said the RFP mentioned in the mail attached was under preparation and was not published as on November 7, 2020, on the date of the conversation. He requested the Chief Secretary to initiate an inquiry into it and take necessary action, as per law.
Previously, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned IPS officer Nimbalkar along with another IPS officer in the multi-crore IMA Ponzi scheme fraud for allegedly covering it up and shielding the scheme operators
As per the reports, Nimbalkar claimed in his petition that his role in the Criminal Investigation Department was to forward the reports to the seniors, contending that the reports must be approved by his seniors in the department. He also alleged that the CBI filed two FIRs in the same case.
Each of my actions is to protect public interest & public money: IPS officer Roopa D
Karnataka Home Secretary D Roopa, IPS has written a letter to state Chief Secretary Vijaya Bhaskar alleging that fellow IPS officer Hemanth Nimbalkar has made a false and motivated complaint against her. She has further demanded a probe against Nimbalkar, alleging in turn that he was trying to favour a private company in the Bengaluru Safe City Project.
Senior IPS officer D Roopa clarified it was she who called the Ernst & Young officials to know the details pertaining to the tender documents, with the intention of ensuring that the tender process did not favour any single bidder.
Taking to Twitter, she shared a one-page letter written to the Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar. She claims that complaint against her action of calling the company appears to have been made at the behest of those benefiting from biased and unfair tenders.
My whistle blowing in respect of Nirbhaya/safe-city project. pic.twitter.com/AySN4jH2xc
— D Roopa IPS (@D_Roopa_IPS) December 25, 2020
"Each of my actions in this regard is to protect the public interest and public money in bona fide discharge of my duties as a public servant," she said.
According to her letter, she said that she found several irregularities while studying Nirbhaya safe city project file and in this context, she had called the company in her capacity as Home Secretary.
She further stated that Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) had complained to Prime Minister's Office that the tender was favouring a particular private vendor.
"I blew the whistle bringing this to notice of the Chief Secretary. This even led to Chief Secretary calling me for the next meeting. It proved that the tender document was biased and tender was even cancelled," she claimed.
According to her, in this context, in her capacity as Home Secretary, she spoke with Ernst & Young (E&Y) to get more facts to know why such biased tender was drafted by them.
The letter issued by D Roopa:
Roopa Divakar Moudgil is currently serving as the Home Secretary in Karnataka government. A recipient of the President Police Medal, she is the first female IPS officer of Karnataka and the first woman to hold the post of the Home Secretary in the state.
She rose to fame in 2017 when she was transferred from her post as Deputy Inspector General Prisons, days after she alleged that AIADMK leader VK Sasikala was enjoying VIP treatment during her jail team at Parappana Agrahara central prison. IPS Roopa had been transferred 41 times in 17 years till 2017, media reports said.
What is the Nirbhaya Fund?
- The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives of the governments and the NGOs working towards the safety of women.
- The Nirbhaya Fund Framework provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund for safety and security of women to be administered by the Department of Economic Affairs of the Union Ministry of Finance.
- Types of cameras to be installed as per the RFP for Bengaluru include 7,500 Day/Night surveillance cameras, 5,000 fixed cameras, 1,000 Pan Tilt Zoom cameras, 1,000 Automated number plate recognition cameras, 500 Facial recognition cameras, 20 drone-based surveillance cameras and 1,100 body-worn cameras.
- The project also includes workstations for video feed monitoring and incidence management, Command and Control Centres, data centres, GIS-based crime mapping for predictive policing, among others.
- 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.
(Disclaimer: IBTimes has approached Hemanth Nimbalkar, IPS for a quote. As soon as we receive his response, this story will be duly updated)