"I will be able to decide on the action to be initiated only after going through the report." : BBMP Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda
A day after Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials were castigated in the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the officials laid the blame on “excessive political interference” in preparing estimates for works and allocation of funds. This, they claimed, hampered their functioning and was also a major factor in the multi-crore bogus bills and work code scam in the BBMP.
A senior official, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu here on Saturday that there was a lot of political interference in the BBMP. “The officials have no option but to do as politicians bid. Else, they will be transferred soon or defamed in the BBMP council. Any work can be taken up only if the politicians [councillors and MLAs] approve of it,” the official said, without mincing words.
This political interference that the official referred to has found mention in the CAG report. The report observes that the MLAs for Dasarahalli (S. Muniraju), Sarvagnanagar (K.J. George) and Shanthinagar (N.A. Haris) had “requested the Commissioner on several occasions to take up roadworks at a specified amount indicated against each work”.
The report also states that even before the estimates were prepared, the tenders were called for by the executive engineers for the amounts indicated by these representatives.
“Evidently, the control mechanism for preparation of estimates such as survey, condition of road and material required, was ignored by the divisions. It was evident that the estimates were prepared to match the amount indicated in the notice inviting tenders,” the report reads.
But, another senior BBMP official maintained that the irregularities would be possible only if officials “willingly” participate with the politicians or give in to other external pressure. “Officials cannot be pressured if they work as per the norms. They may be approached once or twice, but if the officials stick to their guns, they will get the point,” the official said.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe into the multi-crore scam involving road and drain works in Rajarajeshwarinagar, Malleswaram and Gandhinagar divisions is “progressing well”, a CID source said. Most of the works that were reviewed by the CAG are also being investigated by the CID.
BBMP Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda refused to comment on the CAG report. He said he was yet to get hold of the official report. “I will be able to decide on the action to be initiated only after going through the report.”
To prevent irregularities in future, he said, works that have been given work codes would be revalidated before the funds for the same were released. No work would be taken up if it did not have a work code, he added. “The verification and revalidation process will include spot inspection,” he said.
Asked about the change of location of work, he said the jurisdictional joint commissioners would be asked to take up a field visit and endorse the change of location. He also said the BBMP would not hand over any work without e-procurement to Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd. unless it was an emergency.