The scams and alleged financial indiscretions committed by the Bangalore Development Authority under political pressure appear to be taking a toll on its financial health.
The authority, which boasted of a robust Rs. 3,000 crore corpus until 2004, is now seeking loans in the open market so that it can complete its pending projects.
According to an October 13, 2010 official letter procured through RTI by activist B.M. Shivkumar, BDA Commissioner Bharatlal Meena sought the government's permission to borrow Rs. 3,000 crore from the open market to implement pending projects. In the letter, Mr. Meena justified the loan saying that the BDA is facing a severe financial crisis.
But, in a departure from the assertions made in this letter, Mr. Meena told presspersons here on Wednesday that there is nothing wrong with the BDA's financial health.
Asked to respond specifically to the letter, he said, “It is a piece of internal communication. We claimed to be financially ill so that the government would concede to our request to borrow money.”
Mr. Shivkumar, however, said that the letter is just a case in point and listed out a series of financial indiscretions, which he said had drained the once-thriving agency. “All this is purely because of corruption and wilful negligence,” he alleged.
He produced a letter in which Mr. Meena had directed his subordinates not to seek the outstanding payment of Rs. 453 crore from the BBMP.
The BBMP owed this money on account of infrastructure work that was completed by the BDA at the time when Mr. Meena was BBMP Commissioner.
Another document shows that the BDA board on December 18, 2010 resolved to pay Rs. 240.47 crore as consultancy charges to private infrastructure companies for projects worth Rs. 20,288 crore.
“The BDA has 164 engineers on its rolls. What was the need to hire private consultants?” asked Mr. Shivkumar. He also said that a thorough background check on these consulting firms would reveal that they are connected to members of the ruling party.
The denotification of large tracts of land that had been identified for new layouts has also cost the BDA dearly. When the previous government announced plans for the construction of the Kempegowda layout, it had promised 60,000 sites. But, only four to six thousand sites can now be carved out after lands owned by the kin of politicians were denotified.
“This drastic reduction in the number of sites has also hit the BDA hard, which was expecting 10 times more revenue from the layout,” said Mr. Shivkumar.