Anti-corruption unit is investigating three Ministers
With the current tenure of the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) coming to an end on March 31, 2013, questions are being asked whether the State government will renew its mandate as at least three senior Ministers are being investigated by the vigilance unit.
“The existence of the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) is a certainty till March 31 and uncertain after that. The BMTF’s term, which comes to an end on March 31, 2013, is usually extended for a year by the government each year,” said BMTF chief R.P. Sharma.
The BMTF is investigating allegations of corruption against Home Minister R. Ashok, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar and Health Minister Arvind Limbavali.
Mr. Sharma refused to comment when asked if he was apprehensive whether the government would indeed renew BMTF tenure. He pointed out that there have been instances when it had renewed the tenure even six months after its term had ended. “If the renewal comes late, the only problem will be budgetary allocation. Our work will continue,” he said. However, the process seeking renewal of tenure was on. “We usually begin by writing to the government in January, as this is not an automatic renewal. Renewal is through the express will of government. After according approval, the government issues a notification,” he said.
Mr. Sharma said that BMTF’s powers were equivalent to that of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Lokayukta. In 2012, the BMTF had registered 208 cases and arrested 62 persons. It had summoned 310 persons and interrogated over 200. As many as 372 accused in these cases had sought bail. The BMTF had received 642 online complaints, of which 422 had been disposed of and enquiry was on in 220. The BMTF, which was set up in 1996, had registered only 32 cases till 2011 (1996-2011). “The BMTF existed for 15 years, but has performed for the past one year,” he said.
If the government does not grant renewal, he said, there were mechanisms to take over the cases registered by the BMTF. “Taking the cases forward is the mandate of the State,” he added.
Whether the tenure will be renewed or not, plans are afoot to shift the BMTF office from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) head office to Shanthinagar. He said that the government had sanctioned 7,000 sq ft space on the third floor on the BMTC’s Shanthinagar bus terminus. The rent will be Rs. 21 per sq ft.
The BMTF had sought details from the office of the Deputy Commissioner (Urban) about the 4,000 applications in the Bangalore metropolitan area for bagair hukum land. He said that as per media reports, there were six lakh acres of bagair hukum land in the State. “The BMTF has registered five cases pertaining to allotment of bagair hukum land. Once the details are submitted, we will scrutinise them either on a linear or random basis. We will refer to the A.T. Ramaswamy Joint Legislature Committee Report and V. Balasubramaniam Committee Report on encroachment of government land,” he added.