Public Works Department bans release of money to suspect contractors

The State government has ordered recovery of Rs. 26.71 crore from contractors involved in the multi-crore bogus bill scam in the Magadi subdivision (Ramanagaram district) of the Public Works Department.

This recovery pertains to payment made to contractors for nonexistent works on State and major district roads in Magadi.

Suspect contractors

Not only has it ordered recovery of money, the order (April 3, 2013) issued by the Department of Public Works, Ports and Inland Transport has prohibited release of money to any suspect contractors, including Kemparaju, Nanjaiah and Shankar, whose names have been bandied about with regard to the scam.

Setting up a six-member team, headed by Superintending Engineer (Bangalore Circle) K. Mohan, to recover excess payment from the contractors, the department has also asked the team to identify other contractors involved in the scam.

1,300 works

This is the first major recovery process initiated in the Rs. 60-crore scam pertaining to the execution of some 1,300 works in Magadi during 2011-2012. The rip-off pertains to overpayment, violation of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act in awarding tenders and creation of bogus bills — in some instances multiple times for the same works — in the execution of culverts, drains, roads, sanitary works and community halls among others.

The newly constituted recovery team has been asked to identify if the contractors involved in the scam are executing any other works in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and Irrigation Department in the State to recover the money from those bills.

“If there are no dues, the money has to be recovered from other sources,” the order said, adding that weekly progress report has to be submitted in this connection.

“We have started the process of identifying the works and contractors,” one of the members told The Hindu, without elaborating on the deadline.