Deputy Mayor says there is no scandal, Opposition ready for debate
Councillors of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Janata Dal (Secular) have started the blame game regarding the alleged Rs. 121-crore garbage scam in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagra Palike (BBMP).
Deputy Mayor S. Harish rubbished allegations levelled by Janata Dal (Secular) Floor Leader Padmanabha Reddy, who had claimed on Tuesday that the BJP administration had violated terms of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act and entered into “agreement” with garbage contractors.
He said that the BBMP council had, in fact, accorded approval to extend the garbage contract for three months when there was no response to the new garbage tenders.
“Several councillors complained in the council about the severe shortage of manpower and equipment, which has affected the solid waste management in their respective wards. Based on their request, the piece work for solid waste management was given to the existing contractors,” he added. Mr. Harish, who addressed presspersons in the absence of Mayor Sharadamma, said that as per the PWD Code, jurisdictional chief engineers have the powers to pay an additional sum of up to 15 per cent to the contractors after getting an approval from the competent authority (i.e. Commissioner and zonal joint commissioners).
“The councillors have to monitor the solid waste management in their wards and can write to the zonal officials to stop payment if the contractors fail to do so.”
Even as Mr. Harish reiterated that there was no scam involved, Mr. Reddy shot back and said that he still stood by his statement. He asked what was the need to release funds without calling for tenders.
“Garbage clearance, though important, cannot be treated as emergency work. I am ready for a public debate on the issue. I do not mind going to either the BJP office, RSS office or VHP office to debate on this. The documents I have speak for themselves,” Mr. Reddy said.
He said that Mr. Harish should apologise to the citizens and him for making false statements. “If he fails to do so in a week, I will file a complaint regarding the scam and violation of the KTPP Act with the Lokayukta,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda claimed that the additional funds were released as it had become inevitable for the BBMP to bank on the existing garbage contractors.
Admitting that the “agreements” need to be reviewed, he said that the lack of response to the garbage tenders were the main reasons for clubbing this piece work with the main contract.
“The additional requests were paid on emergency basis as it was a need-based work.”
About the recruitment of additional pourakarmikas, Mr. Gowda said that the issue had been discussed and would soon be brought before the council.