Some of the projects are ‘unnecessary’, say sources

It is common practice for the ruling party to take up ‘development works’ ahead of elections to influence voters. Attempting to put an end to this, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has frozen 1,970 schemes worth Rs. 522.95 crore.

According to sources in the BBMP, these works were sanctioned sometime in January/February this year under special grants of Mayor, Deputy Mayor, city MLAs and chairpersons of different standing committees. Of the 2,756 schemes worth Rs. 762.51 crore that were sanctioned, only 786 works worth Rs. 239.56 crore have been taken up so far. This means that 1,970 schemes have not been taken up yet.

The sources said that these 1,970 schemes are in various stages of the tendering process. With the election code of conduct already in force, the BBMP has put all new schemes on hold and has not floated any tenders. To prevent these schemes being taken up, BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah, who is also the District Election Officer, directed the Technical Vigilance Cell under Commissioner (TVCC) to ascertain how many have been taken up so far.

Citizens’ feedback

On investigation, the TVCC officials found that only 28.5 per cent of works had been taken up in the eight zones in the city. The sources conceded that some of the projects were “unnecessary”. “We received feedback from citizens who maintained that good roads were being asphalted and drains were being reconstructed. By freezing these projects, the BBMP has averted a scam and wastage of taxpayers’ money,” the source added.

The former Mayor M. Ramachandrappa said that the BBMP had not taken up any “real infrastructure development works”, only asphalting and drainage works.

“What is the necessity of this? Why should these works be taken up just ahead of the elections? The BBMP should prevent misuse of funds by not taking up such works for at least a year. The funds could be used instead to clear pending bills and the huge loans.”

He pointed out that this was exactly what P. Dinanath Shenoy did when he was the corporation Commissioner in 1993-94. “The outstanding loan of Rs. 20 crore and four months’ pending bills were cleared by the Commissioner, who refused to permit any new works to be taken up in the city.”

Political mileage

Opposition Leader M.K. Gunashekar alleged that the ruling party had got these works sanctioned only to gain political mileage. “Why was there a delay in taking up the schemes that were sanctioned a few months ago? What is the nature of these schemes,” he asked.

Mr. Siddaiah told The Hindu the schemes that have been frozen would be subjected to a pre-audit. “The pre-audit will ascertain if the work is essential. With this, the quantum of schemes required will come down,” he said.

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