BEL Picked Chinese Vendor, Says BharadwajAlokKNMishra@timesgroup.com
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken on Friday accused the AAP government of compromising national security by involving a Government of China-owned company for installing 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras in the city. Maken claimed that the chairman of the Chinese company was a secretary of the Communist Party of China and expressed his fear that the cameras can easily be used for spying.
Maken also alleged that a bribe was the reason for choosing the company. “Due to corruption, the Arvind Kejriwal government compromised national security,” he said at a press conference where he dared chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to file a defamation case against him over the allegations. He announced that Delhi Congress will organise a protest outside Kejriwal’s official residence on Sunday if the CM did not resign over the issue by then.
AAP laughed off the allegations. It pointed out that the government had picked Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a public sector undertaking under the ministry of defence, for the CCTV project. “BEL has picked the Chinese vendor for installing the cameras. We did not have any role in that,” said AAP Delhi spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj. He, however, defended the choice of the Chinese company, claiming that it had installed CCTV cameras in Delhi Metro, at facilities of Defence Research Development Organisation and defence ministry, Delhi high court, and several other high-security places.
It must be pointed out that Chinese companies are active in various sectors in the country. These include manufacturing of mobile handsets, power, transport, white goods, construction, pharma and even real estate.
Earlier, Maken had alleged a scam in the CCTV project because its cost was hiked from Rs 130 crore in October 2015 to Rs 571 crore in 2018 and the tenders were finalized without cabinet approval of the total cost. AAP had rejected Maken’s charges, point by point.
Breaking his silence on the issue, Kejriwal took to Twitter to target Maken. “BJP, LG and Maken together tried to stop mohalla clinics last year. They successfully delayed it by several months. Now, they want to scuttle CCTV cameras. It is very, very unfortunate,” Kejriwal said. Associating the CCTV project with women’s security, the AAP government has given maximum priority to this project as its MLAs are being questioned by the people about it in their respective constituencies, it says.
Maken alleged that in November 2017 when the first tender was floated, the Chinese company was not registered as a vendor with BEL. “That’s the reason why the AAP government did not finalise BEL for the first tender. It was done for the second tender after the Chinese company registered itself as a vendor with BEL,” Maken alleged. Bharadwaj has, however, claimed that the Chinese company was registered with BEL even in November.
Maken also questioned the presence of two representatives of the Chinese company at a meeting held by PWD on February 6, 2018, on the CCTV project. Bharadwaj said that the Chinese company is the original equipment manufacturer for BEL. Its representatives were present at the PWD meeting because it is mandatory for technical experts to be present at the technical bids. “BEL does not manufacture cameras. The Chinese company supplies the cameras to it.”
Maken claimed that according to home ministry guidelines, no Chinese company can be engaged in work related to defence and internal security. He also targeted the BJP-led Central Government. “The defence ministry cannot escape blame and it should also be under probe over the issue,” he said. He said he will go to CBI, Central Vigilance Commission and, if necessary, also the court.
AAP MLA Alka Lamba put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a tweet, she said: “The AAP government gave the work to BEL and Modi who recently went to China gave the work to a Chinese company. Maken should ask Modi.”