Pandemonium prevailed at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council meeting on Wednesday, when the Congress councillors stormed the well twice for two separate issues.

The meeting, which was supposed to start at 10.30 am, began after being adjourned once due to lack of quorum. Soon after the meeting began, the Congress councillors raised the issue of pending bills to the silt-and-tractor contractors.

Former Opposition Leader and Siddapura councillor M. Udayshankar alleged that the bills amounting to several lakhs were not released to the contractors, most of whom were in dire straits. He claimed that bills from the south zone were not cleared.

Hanumanthanagar councillor K. Chandrasekhar alleged that a contractor reportedly committed suicide due to mounting debts. "The pending bills were only around Rs. 2.5 lakh. When the BBMP did not clear his bills, he was forced to take loans. The interest mounted to Rs. 7.5 lakh, forcing him to commit suicide," he told reporters later.

He alleged that the BBMP officials were misguiding the Commissioner and had stopped the payment of bills to the silt-and-tractor contractors. He claimed that the officials had combined the silt-and-tractor issue with the desilting of major storm water drains and valleys, an issue which is pending in the Lokayukta court.

The other issue that forced Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy to adjourn the meeting was the HMT land scam. On Tuesday, Yediyur councillor N.R. Ramesh and Ruling Party Leader N. Nagaraju had alleged the involvement of senior Congress leaders in the scam.

D.J. Halli councillor Sampath Raj raised the issue after invoking Point of Order privileges under the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. He sought to know how the BJP leaders could make such allegations without proof. "If you can show me the names of any of the Congress leaders in the documents pertaining to the alleged HMT land scam, I am ready to commit hang myself here itself," he challenged.

The other Congress councillors demanded to know why the press conference on the issue was conducted in the Ruling Party Leader's office. "When the lands were sold, it was the BJP government that was in power at the Centre. If the BJP government in the State has the will and guts, let the CBI investigate into the issue," they demanded after storming the well for the second time.

This statement brought the BJP councillors to their feet and demand that the statement be removed from the council records. When neither the Congress nor BJP members refused to resume their seats so that meeting could resume, Mr. Murthy adjourned the meeting for lunch.

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