New Delhi: We often hear the importance of keeping our environment green. And it cannot be different when it comes to giving a clean and green look to our national capital. But the larger question is did Delhi require a green cover worth Rs 24 crore ahead of the Commonwealth Games?

Yes, the figure looks astronomical by any standards, but that is the amount Delhi Government spent in buying 60 lakh earthen pots with saplings to be used in giving a green cover to the national capital.

Delhi government cleared the amount two years before the commencement of the Games. And to add salt to the wounds, most of the earthen pots meant to be placed outside and near the stadiums never reached their destination because Delhi Police refused to give permission out of security concerns.

And if that was not enough, the preliminary audit show that most of the earthen pots are now missing. The Public Works Department claims they were handed over to different departments, but as per the initial audit they are found to be missing.

The documents available with the Jagran hint towards a major bungling of funds in purchase of saplings. The probe agencies are of the assessment that such a large number of earthen pots with saplings were never purchased at the first place.

Documents show that the decision to buy 60 lakh earthen pots with saplings was taken in August 2008, more than two years before the commencement of the Games when neither the stadiums were ready nor the blueprint of security arrangements was made.

Documents also show that the Chief Minister’s office cleared the proposal of the Chief Secretary and sanctioned a budget of Rs 28 crore (however, the actual expenditure came to be Rs 24 crore).

The budget of 60 lakh earthen pots was distributed among seven departments out of which DDA, MCD, NDMC, Delhi Forest Department and Delhi Park and Garden Society were allotted a budget of 10 lakh pots each.

PWD and CPWD were allotted a quota of 5 lakh pots each.

Investigations suggest that the saplings were purchased at rates 20 percent more than the actual rates. The saplings were bought directly from nurseries when the Delhi government has a functional Gardening Department which does the same job.

Therefore, when they were actually to be placed at the desired places, the Delhi Police refused to give permission.

Moreover, where did the 60 lakh saplings disappear is a mystery. Contrary to the claims of the PWD, the investigative agencies have not been able to get any reliable evidence about the saplings being used in the different government departments.

Role of Gardening Department

The Gardening Department’s role in the entire goof up cannot be discounted. The department, in the name of street scrapping, planted saplings of plants unsuitable for the climatic and environment conditions of the national capital.

Expensive plants like Dates, Palm, Cycas Revoluta, Ficus Panda and Fur keria were planted along the pavements by the department. The probe agencies have estimated that these plants were bought at inflated rate ranging from 12 to 400 percent.

(Anshuman Tiwari/JPN)