‘PWD commissioned projects twice in Magadi, Channapatna’

A private complaint was filed in the Special Lokayukta Court here alleging gross irregularities in infrastructure projects commissioned by the Public Works Department in Magadi and Channapatna between 2009 and 2012.

Documents procured under RTI Act, which were submitted to the court, seek to establish that the department officials commissioned the same projects twice within a gap of a few months.

Despite spending public money on the same project more than once, the works have not yet been completed, lawyer B.N. Jagdeesha told the court on behalf of his client. According to the complainant C. Puttaswamy, who is a member of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, the loss to the exchequer was in excess of Rs. 280 crore.

The submission to the court shows, for instance, that 1,248 road works worth Rs. 228 crore were commissioned by the department in 2011-12 in Channapatna and Magadi. However, the works were never completed or were of substandard quality, he alleged.

Further, he submitted documents to show that these road work projects had been commissioned in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Mr. Puttaswamy also showed several instances where the payments were released to contractors despite the fact that nothing had happened on the ground.

One example was that of a 4.2-km stretch of road between Gudemaranahalli and Byladdakere in Magadi for which 31 work orders were sanctioned at a cost of Rs. 6 crore.

Despite the multiple sanctions and the large sums of money spent, the work was of low quality, he alleged.

It has also been alleged that to avoid scrutiny under the e-tender regime, which requires the department to call for online tenders for projects above Rs. 20 lakh, the department officials deliberately broke up each project into smaller bits below the Rs. 20-lakh mark. All these tenders were awarded to a small group of 10 contractors, the complainant alleged.

It was also submitted that in addition to the projects commissioned by the the department, there were projects undertaken by NABARD, Karnataka State Highway Infrastructure Project, Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana and other Centrally-funded road projects.

The case has been posted to March 28.