Commissioner who wanted Lokayukta to probe big scam is replaced
In a dramatic development, the State Government on Monday shunted out Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Siddaiah even as it ordered an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) into the alleged multi-crore scam related to infrastructure works in three divisions.
Hours after transfer order was issued, Principal Secretary of Transport M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda took charge as the new BBMP Commissioner while Mr. Siddaiah has not been given a posting.
The transfer came as no surprise as at least six city legislators had reportedly been lobbying with the Chief Minister to replace Mr. Siddaiah after he handed over the scam investigation to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF). He, however, told presspersons that he met the Chief Secretary around 10 days ago to seek a transfer on health grounds.
The BMTF investigation of the scam in the execution of the Rs. 1,539-crore works in Rajarajeshwarinagar, Malleswaram and Gandhinagar divisions had raised a storm with several BJP leaders opposing the probe. Amid this, BBMP engineers protested against the BMTF investigation based on what they said was the “contrived” report of the Technical Vigilance Committee under Commissioner (TVCC).
Most city MLAs and councillors were upset that Mr. Siddaiah had handed over the investigation without consulting either the Mayor or BBMP council, a BJP source said.
To make matters worse, Mr. Siddaiah even wrote to the Urban Development Department seeking permission to hand over the probe to the Lokayukta.
Moreover, the source said, the BJP councillors wanted to constitute a house committee to look into the scam instead of an investigation by BMTF.
The transfer, meanwhile, was decried by the opposition Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) whose leaders said it was politically motivated to scuttle the probe. They pointed out that the investigation was to be discussed in the BBMP council on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Earlier, while announcing the inquiry, Home Minister R. Ashok said that two orders had been issued allowing the CID inquiry — one handing over the investigation of the alleged scam and another to probe last fortnight's mysterious fire that engulfed the BMTF office at the BBMP headquarters.
He said that Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had approved the inquiry, which would also look into the tenure of the previous Commissioners and the tender process adopted by them. This was to avoid politicisation of the issue. No deadline had been set for completing the investigation.
“The decision had been taken following complaints that there were irregularities in allotting the job code to works and in their execution,” Mr. Ashok said. The scope of the inquiry could be widened to other BBMP divisions too.
“The Government will decide the course of investigation based on the nature of the resolution that will be passed in the BBMP council on Tuesday,” he said.