With the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) freezing many projects deemed “unnecessary”, crucial development projects have also been affected, councillors said.
Cutting across party lines, they objected to BBMP’s decision to freeze 1,970 projects worth Rs. 522 crore. The Technical Vigilance Cell under Commissioner (TVCC) had reported that these projects, sanctioned under special grants from government, MLAs, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and 12 standing committees, were unnecessary.
‘Why have a council?’
Ruling Party Leader N. Nagaraju, who raised the issue, sought to know how the officials, who had themselves prepared estimates, approved the projects, floated tenders and issued work orders, suddenly realised they were unnecessary. “If the bureaucrats are going to take such unilateral decisions that will have a bearing on the city’s infrastructure, why should there be a council?”
Opposition Leader M.K. Gunashekar and Janata Dal (Secular) Floor Leader Thimme Gowda concurred and both demanded that the decision be revoked even as the JD(S) councillors stormed the well and raised slogans.
Yediyur councillor N.R. Ramesh, who alleged the entire bureaucratic setup in the BBMP was corrupt, said nearly 27 per cent of project costs goes to officials at various levels as bribes. Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy did not dispute this and remarked: “This is common knowledge.”
Finally, bowing to the pressure, Special Commissioner K.R. Niranjan said the projects may be re-examined. He said the TVCC was now reviewing 19,550 spill-over projects (from 2008-09 to 2012-13) worth Rs. 3,229 crore. In the light of BBMP’s poor financial status, it was necessary to take some “tough decisions”.
The council passed a resolution directing Commissioner to scrap the decision to freeze the projects and re-examine the same.
The severe water scarcity in the city was another hot topic of discussion. Cutting across party lines, councillors sought to know how drinking water needs could be met if the rains fail.
Opposition Leader Gunashekar questioned what the BBMP and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) planned to do to quench the thirst of the residents of 110 villages of Greater Bangalore, where there was neither any water supply network nor was water being supplied through tankers.
Several councillors complained about the BWSSB officials dragging their feet to repair the borewells that have been drilled earlier.
Babu Kumar, BWSSB’s Additional Chief Engineer (Maintenance), conceded that of BWSSB’s 12,000-odd borewells, over 8,200 had dried up.
To this, the councillors demanded to know what BWSSB’s alternatives were and demanded that the BWSSB Managing Director Gaurav Gupta convene a special meeting to discuss the same with the councillors.
Special Commissioner Niranjan said BBMP had made a provision of Rs. 75 crore to drill borewells and supply water through private tankers for the current fiscal. Of this, the BBMP had already spent Rs. 33.5 crore. The council also resolved to release Rs. 25 lakh to old wards and Rs. 50 lakh to new wards to solve the drinking water problems.